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The Sids and the Honigsteins...


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The annual Guardian Spanish and German football awards are usually pretty good for a laugh. This year is no exception.

 

First up The Sids:

 

On the eve of the 2008-09 season, El Mundo Deportivo broke a huge story on their front cover, brilliantly uncovered by their crack investigative team, rendered pleasing to the eye by the creative whiz kids and so big it took up a double page spread. There, splashed across pages two and three was the Barcelona team with Michael Essien and Frank Lampard alongside Andrés Iniesta in midfield and Franck Ribery up front. There was just one catch: it wasn't the actual Barcelona team; it was what Barcelona would have been had they employed Jose Mourinho, only they didn't. As pointless as it was painful, it was the speedboat on Bullseye. Look what you could have won!

 

 

What they could have won? Under Pep Guardiola, the man everyone now claims to have always backed, they won everything, while rivals Madrid were so shambolic Bernd Schuster admitted he didn't know what he was thinking, the president became more and more of a clown until he was the ex-president, and Sergio Ramos disappeared at half time to take in the toros instead of his team-mates. Even their own website declared them "the perfect ten." After losing at Camp Nou.

 

 

For a brief moment, the title race looked like coming alive but ultimately Barcelona were just too good. Madrid's run of 17 wins in 18 and that talk about Barça cacking themselves was as worthless as a Ramón Calderón promise. Still, Madrid did get second spot, while Sevilla and Atlético took the other Champions League places and Valencia and Villarreal reached the Europa League, along with Athletic Bilbao – runners up in the Copa del Rey.

 

 

At the other end, Osasuna beat already-given-up Madrid and Barcelona to survive on the final day again. Sporting, Getafe and Valladolid escaped too, leaving Betis relegated by one goal, alongside Recreativo de Huelva and Numancia. A major surprise for a club that spent over €40m, whose owner boasted of having built the "best squad in history". Less of a surprise for one where that same owner sees ghosts he calls "investors", forces players to pay for their own operations, and signs Ricardo Oliveira and Sergio García – the strike partnership that went down with another club too good to go down last season.

 

 

But while every team other than Barcelona won nothing, they won't be going completely empty-handed as Guardian Unlimited hands out its eighth end-of-season awards to Spain's finest. And Numancia…

 

 

Most deserving hero: Mario Martínez Rubio, the midfielder whose dad helped take Numancia to the Second Division B for the first time ever and whose mum runs the local false leg emporium. He spent his childhood banging a drum in the stands at Numancia's Pajaritos stadium and became the first soriano ever to play top flight football for them. So it was appropriate that he scored the goal that beat mighty Barcelona on the opening day. Even more appropriate for a club whose entire budget couldn't pay Leo Messi's wages, Mario was the worst-paid player in primera, earning half as much in a year as Thierry Henry gets in a week. Alas, his 15 minutes of fame didn't even last 15 minutes. Numancia picked up one point in the next five games, finished 19th and went down. Mario never scored again.

 

 

The Benny Hinn award for religion really paying off: Goes to Espanyol and their coach Mauricio Pochettino. With 10 weeks left, Espanyol were bottom on 22 points, eight from safety, having won four times all season. It was going to take a miracle for them to survive, so Pochettino asked for one. He hiked 12km to Montserrat, pleaded with the Virgin to save his team and, lo!, she did. Ten games and eight wins later, Espanyol finished 10th.

 

 

Weakest excuse: When Pochettino hiked to Montserrat, the Espanyol president Dani Sánchez Llibre claimed: "I can't join him because I've got two hernias". He did though kindly promise to do half of it – "if someone gives me a lift."

 

 

Best motivator: Deportivo's PA announcer, José Luis Naya motivated, his team by declaring. "They only have one Webó and we have 20." Webó being the Mallorca striker and also punnily close to huevo or b******. Which begs the question "where were the other two?" and leads us to a more deserving winner: Pamplona piggy purveyor Luis Miguel Arraztoa. He was so desperate for Osasuna to beat Espanyol that he offered them a special win bonus: 12 suckling pigs. Osasuna won and the captains Patxi Puñal and Carlos Cruchaga took delivery of a dozen squealing, wriggling, cute piglets, all under a month old, an odd shade of pink, and set for the oven. "We painted them blue and red but they got agitated and the colour ran," Arraztoa admitted while Puñal brilliantly added: "People were begging us to win so they could see the real live pigs." There was just one problem: the man whose goal won the pigs doesn't eat pork.

 

 

Best banner: Held up by a shirt-chasing Osasuna fan wearing a red and black bra and not much else: "Cruchaga, if you don't want my t*** to get cold, give me your shirt."

 

 

Speaking of banners, most skewed priorities: The Federation's competition committee, which fined Fredi Kanouté €3,000 for revealing a T-shirt with "Palestine" on it. That's €3,000 more than Atlético were fined when fans unfurled a banner supporting Jörg Haider.

 

 

Best fans: The season ended the way seasons should in Pamplona and Gijón – with a proper pitch invasion from some of the best fans in Spain. The top division found out how much it had missed Sporting after a decade away and would have similarly missed Osasuna. "This is a real stadium," said Rafa Márquez after Barcelona played at the Molinón. The "unlike Camp Nou" went without saying. Sporting's fans also did something virtually unheard of and pleasingly contagious: travel to away games. Now all the division needs is Real Oviedo too, Sporting's local rivals and the side that boasted 26,000 for a 7th tier match. An honourable mention for Sevilla, Atlético and Betis. But the winners have to be Athletic Bilbao for resuscitating the Copa del Rey and producing the best final for decades – off the pitch even more than on it.

 

 

Best merchandise: El Mundo Deportivo chose the recrimination-filled, finger-pointing morning after violence marred the Catalan derby to offer readers a new collection: Barcelona knives.

 

 

Best money-making scheme: Espanyol's new stadium will have a cemetery for pericos that have passed away. Dead parrots, in other words. Meanwhile, crisis-hit Valencia's made their players available for your weddings, christenings and bar mitzvahs. And their own funeral.

 

 

Most surreal sight: Real Madrid's bench, a place where Juande Ramos clips his nails, Julien Faubert has a kip and Royston Drenthe loses his shirt.

 

 

Most withering stare: If Pep Guardiola's looks could kill, Samuel Eto'o's body would have stopped twitching months ago.

 

 

Coldest act of revenge: It all seemed so innocent when the recently sacked Murcia coach Javier Clemente took his former players out for a seafood supper as a thank you. Until, that is, their match with Celta de Vigo had to be postponed after the whole squad got food poisoning.

 

 

Best interview: Radio Marca and Gonzalo Higuaín after the Argentinian had single-handedly defeated Malaga 4-3. As the interview started Barcelona were 2-0 up against Valladolid, five minutes from half-time and Eto'o had got them both. "Congratulations Gonzalo," began the interviewer. "Four goals, eh? Wow! No one can match that." Just as Higuaín began another monotone there was an almighty racket "Beep! Beep! Beep! Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Go-Goooooooooooooooooooooool! Gol! Gol! Gol, del Barcelona! Gol de Samuuuuuuuel Eto'o!" A moment's pause, a deep breath. "Well, er, Eto'o has a hat-trick, but Higuaín scored four – yes, four! A unique achievement … Gonzalo?" "Well," Higuaín started, and there it was again. "Go-Go-Goooooooooooooooooooooool! Gol! Gol! Gol, del Barcelona! Gol, de Samuuuuuuuel Eto'o! 43 minutes, Eto'o gets his fourth!" "Erm, well … Gonzalo?" It was all Higuaín could do not to mutter, "you b*****d".

 

 

Most revealing appearance in the Camp Nou press room: This one.

 

 

Biggest turncoat: When Robinho announced his desire to leave Madrid, Tomás Roncero sniped: "We've never seen Robinho play brilliantly in any big game and the best bullfighters do it in the biggest bullrings." Funny how he didn't recall saying "Robinho is more complete than Leo Messi – 2009's Balon d'Or," back in October 2007. Or: "Robinho, 2008's Balon d'Or," three months later. Or "Robinho will win the Balon d'Or and Madrid's 10th European Cup," three months before that.

 

 

Most shameless media campaign: Marca fought off stiff competition to become Florentino Pérez's political pamphlet, portraying their hero with a saintly smile and the sea parting at his feet.

 

 

Stupidest accusation: Ramón Calderón's paranoid rant about Pérez posing with Zidane and Ronaldo. Madrid's president started raving about how no one ever showed photos of Pérez with his less successful players. Where's the one, he bawled, of Pérez handing the white shirt to Antonio Cassano – the man who "dedicated himself to increasing the birth rate and fomenting prostitution"? It would have been a good point, only Calderón had forgotten one, vital thing: the man who presented Cassano wasn't Pérez at all. It was one of his directors. A director by the name of Ramón Calderón.

 

 

Best referee: Athletic v Racing ended up nine against eight after Bernardino González Vásquez whipped out 18 cards, sending five from the pitch and another from the bench, taking his three-game haul to a truly magnificent 39 yellows and eight reds. And it wasn't even a dirty match. But the winner is Alfonso Pérez Burrull, who gave the worst penalty of all time for this "foul" on Diego Forlán and produced an even better display at the Santiago Bernabéu. Not only did he turn down two penalties, he booked Juanfran for having the temerity to get fouled, sending him off with a message: "If you're going to dive, dive well." When one player ventured that he'd realise his mistake when he watched the game on telly later, Pérez Burrull replied: "You can stick your telly up your a***."

 

 

Best game: For brilliance, Barcelona's 6-2 hammering of Madrid wins hands down. But more exciting was Betis's 3-3 draw with Numancia, a game that had three penalties, three goals in the last five minutes, three red cards, two of them in the dying minutes and one for a goalie, a striker injuring himself celebrating and an outfield player in a pink top trying to stop a penalty. "The lunatics take over the asylum," said Marca. Atlético's rip-roaring 4-2 win over Barça appeared, momentarily, to have opened up the league. And the best of all was Madrid's ludicrously improbable 3-2 win over Getafe, with Pepe losing his marbles and Javier Casquero taking the stupidest penalty in the whole wide world. Ever.

 

 

Goal of the season: Juanfran turned volley-maestro to rescue Osasuna but it wasn't as good as this one-two, finished by Achille Emaná. For footwork Massoud Shojaie's at the Calderón stands out; for the assist, Ikechukwu Uche's goal from Casquero's pass (at 2.03) against Sporting takes some beating; for a tidy exchange, there's Ersen Martin's for Recre against Osasuna; only the deflected shot ruins the perfect Barcelona move against Almería; and for the perfect finish, from distance, how about this from Pedro López? Then there's Cléber Santana for Mallorca versus Madrid and just about everything Messi did all year, especially the one against Malaga. But the winner is Yaya Touré. A defensive midfielder playing at centre-back. In a cup final. With his team one down. And he goes and does this.

 

 

Best president: Many a challenger, one clear winner: Xerez's black-eyed boss Joaquín Bilbao, who resigned after he was involved in a late night drive-by shooting at a brothel. He turned up feeling a little randy and took exception to the club being closed. A fight with the bouncers ensued but rather than go home, cool down and avoid a pasting, he drove off and returned an hour later. With his gun. Shots were fired but Bilbao never paid the price (in either sense). Because it was his chauffeur that did it.

 

 

Worst President: Ramón Calderón keeps this award forever. Once claimed his tombstone would read "here lies the president who didn't sign Kaká" but only because all that other stuff won't fit. He was right, they were out to get him; the tragedy for Calderón was that he made it so very, very easy for them. "I am not going to resign. Only cowards and those with something to hide resign," he announced. Twenty-four hours later, he resigned. And still Roberto Gómez declared him the "Kennedy of presidents", bowing before a "gentlemanliness never before seen in football".

 

 

Worst would-be president: Paul Davidson, the man who said he was going to buy Real Mallorca but never produced the cash. Instead, just looked around, scratched his chin, talked rubbish and took off, leaving them up to their necks in the brown stuff. No wonder they call him The Plumber.

 

 

Man of the Year: Guti. Not for the surreal tache and side parting combo, the "injuries", the whinging at coach and press, or the 4am insult from behind a shopping bag, but for the stalker. Most people's stalkers are harmless loners. When Guti gets one, it's a deaf-mute boxing champ with a pathological grudge, a car he doesn't mind trashing in pursuit of his prey, a tasty right hook and a target he's cased for years. A worthy winner, Guti doesn't do things by halves. Except play.

 

 

Best signing: When Rayo Vallecano's Carlos de la Vega was arrested as part of a cocaine bust, the club immediately bought defender Jorge Andújar Moreno to replace him. Andújar Moreno's footballing moniker? Coke.

 

 

Best coach: Mauricio Pochettino rescued Espanyol, Gregorio Manzano gave Mallorca the stability that Mallorca couldn't give him, what Juande Ramos did at Madrid was extraordinary, and Antonio Tapia performed a miracle with Málaga. But there can be only one winner: Pep Guardiola, the man who spent the season destroying the clichés and Barcelona's opponents.

 

 

Player of the season:

 

 

5th Dani Alves. A footballing Sonic the Hedgehog.

 

4th Diego Forlán. Single headedly dragging Atlético back to the Champions League with 32 goals and 10 assists.

 

3rd Andrés Iniesta. Vision, touch and technique. Even injured he was better than everyone else in Rome.

 

2nd Xavi Hernández. The man who keeps Barcelona ticking and never rotates. Or loses the ball. Out-passed everyone in the European Championship final and did it again in the European Cup final. Spain's top assist provider.

 

1st Leo Messi. Making the extraordinary routine. You always felt that he was an injury-free season away from being the best. Now, at last, he's had that season. The man some eejits said was a big game bottler. Because Real Madrid away, the Copa del Rey final and the European Cup final aren't big games. Top scorer in the Champions League, top scorer in the Cup and 23 more in La Liga, 38 in total – topped off by a towering header, for goodness sake.

 

 

Team of the season:

 

 

Diego López (Villarreal)

 

 

Dani Alves (Barcelona)

 

Pepe (Madrid)

 

Piqué (Barcelona)

 

Felipe Luis (Deportivo)

 

 

Duda (Málaga)

 

Xavi (Barcelona)

 

Iniesta (Barcelona)

 

 

Messi (Barcelona)

 

Forlán (Atlético)

 

Villa (Valencia).

 

 

Subs: Kanouté, Navas (both Sevilla), Eto'o, Henry (both Barcelona), Apoño (Málaga), Negredo (Almería), Mata (Valencia), Diarra, Robben, Higuaín (all Madrid).

 

 

And finally, the year's choicest quotes:

 

 

"I might be eating my words but I reckon Real Madrid suit us more than Barcelona" – the Sporting Gijón coach, Manolo Preciado, he of the tache you could hide a badger in, the day after Barcelona beat his side 6-1. Two days later, Madrid beat them 7-1.

 

 

"Before the game I'll give him a cuddle but if David Villa comes anywhere near my touchline during it I'll bite him" – Preciado on the former Sporting striker's return to El Molinón.

 

 

"We're not Bayer Leverkusen now, just like we weren't the last crap Pontius Pilate ever took before" - Preciado tries to keep things in perspective.

 

 

"I see even the short and the ugly have an opinion these days" - Bernd Schuster doesn't take kindly to Getafe coach Víctor Muñoz talking about Real Madrid.

 

 

"Winning at the Camp Nou is impossible. The state we're in, all we can do is go there and put in a decent performance" – Schuster fails to realise that Real Madrid can and must, even when they can't.

 

 

"I hardly know Nanín"– So says Ramón Calderón, 48 hours before having a night out with him at Madrid's Pachá nightclub.

 

 

"I never dive" – Iker Casillas leaves everyone wondering how he's been a goalkeeper for the past decade.

 

 

"I've gone from whore to nun in five minutes" – Athletic Bilbao coach Joaquín Caparrós reflects on how quickly opinions change.

 

 

"We're going to piss on them at Anfield" - Vicente Boluda gives his prediction for Real Madrid's game at Liverpool.

 

 

"My cousin who lives up in the Alpujarras mountains could see that it was a penalty … and he hasn't got a telly" – the Recreativo coach, Lucas Alcaraz, isn't impressed with the referee.

 

 

"The refereeing at the Camp Nou was the worst thing that has ever happened to me" – Lionel Scaloni, who's clearly led an extremely easy life, doesn't like an offside decision.

 

 

"The bellboy was my friend and he would bring girls up to my room. When I'd finished with them, he would take them off me on the stairs and hand me a pastry. Sex and cakes, the perfect night" – Antonio Cassano looks back fondly on his time in Madrid.

 

 

"Resign" – Villarreal's Joan Capdevila ponders what he'd do first if he was voted in as prime minster.

 

And then the Honigsteins:

 

Forty-six years after its inception, the Bundesliga has become rather predictable: either Bayern Munich win the championship – or anyone else. Thanks to a combination of Jürgen Klinsmann's ineptitude and the most deluded transfer policy this side of the Tyne, the field opened up like the Red Sea before Moses.

 

 

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (plucky no-name underdogs and nouveau riche moneybags rolled into one) enthralled the public with beautiful one-touch football and finished the first half of their debut season in the Bundesliga at the very top. Ralf Rangnick's side then had the misfortune of coming up against the German winter break. One or two players spent their time off under the Christmas tree enjoying their new-found adulation, then a friendly against Hamburg brought more misery: the leading goal-scorer, Vedad Ibisevic, injured his knee and Carlos Eduardo got suspended for fighting with Ivica Olic. Chinedu Obasi did not recover from his hamstring injury in time either, and Hoffe went on a miserable run of 12 games without a win. Finishing seventh was a fantastic achievement in the end but still felt like an anti-climax.

 

 

It was a similar story for Leverkusen and Hamburg, who both fell short after looking so promising. Stuttgart and Dortmund, on the other hand were nowhere, along with Bremen and Schalke, before turning their seasons around with a series of excellent performances in 2009. But no one had a better Rückrunde than Wolfsburg, naturally, who won an incredible 14 out 17 matches after the break and stormed to their first ever title. Even Felix Magath's curious decision to leave for perennial under-achievers Schalke couldn't stop their irresistible rise.

 

 

All in all, it was season full of spectacular, high-scoring matches, enlivened by the sort of "defending" that made the Premier League popular in the mid-nineties. Only Hertha (fourth) tried to bore everybody into submission with dull negativity. They nearly succeeded.

 

 

Down where the sun don't shine, Karlsruhe woke up too late to realise they were in the midst of second season syndrome. Bielefeld's move to replace Michael Frontzeck before the final match of the season proved the right decision at the wrong time. Or was it the wrong decision at the right time? Perhaps it was just plain wrong. In any case, they're down, along with Cottbus, who lost 5-0 an aggregate in the relegation play-off against Nürnberg. Welcome back, along with Freiburg and Mainz.

 

 

"Trainerfußball" (manager football) was the watchword this year. Strong, powerful characters in the dug-out were all the rage but in the end, football carried on without the managers. Nine out of 18 coaches were fired or left of their own volition. Leverkusen's Bruno Labbadia is almost out of the door, too. So long, Freunde. See you in old freshness in August.

 

 

Best player:

 

3. Grafite. The Brazilian scored 28 goals in 26 games. Nuff said.

 

2. Diego. Wasted the first half of the season flirting with German "pop-star" Sarah Connor, then came back with world-class performances after the break.

 

1. Edin Dzeko. The most elegant, technically accomplished striker Germany has seen for a long time.

 

 

Best goal:

 

3. Ivica Olic (v Werder) A fantastic winner in the northern derby and HSV's one joyous outing against their neighbours this season.

 

2. Edin Dzeko (v Wolfsburg) Instant control, turn, bang! The strike that put Wolves on course for the title.

 

1. Grafite (v Bayern) Needs to be watched in slow-motion a couple of times. Simply beautiful. The goal that signalled Klinsmann's end and heralded Wolfsburg's triumph.

 

 

Best goal against Mickey Mouse opposition: Franck Ribery v Al Wehda

 

 

Nayim-from-the-halfway-line-Award: Sebastian Langkamp made a tackle in midfield – and ended up scoring from 46.5m against Leverkusen.

 

 

Best game:

 

 

3. Dortmund 3-3 Schalke. Schalke were up 3-0 up then fell apart in inimitable Schalke-style in the last 20 minutes.

 

2. Bremen 5-4 Hoffenheim. An insane, cavalier affair. Bremen were 4-1 up, Hoffenheim equalised, Bremen scored again.

 

1. Bayern 2-1 Hoffenheim. To the surprise of Germany and 167 other countries watching the match, the hype could be believed. National manager Joachim Löw saw "perhaps the fastest Bundesliga match ever, pure quality football, an advertisement for the league". "All expectations were exceeded", was Rummenigge's verdict and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung proposed the inclusion of a match DVD "in the curriculum for the German FA's manager course: this much pace, this much intensity, this much of everything that has unfortunately only been characteristic of football elsewhere, has not been seen in Germany".

 

 

Arsène Wenger Medal for defensive delusion: Karl Heinz-Rummenigge. "Martín Demichelis is a world-class defender," said the Bayern vice president.

 

 

Best ad: Pink Panther Franck

 

 

Best attitude: "I told myself before the season: I s*** on the goals", said the Dortmund striker Nelson Valdez. "Without the pressure, I find it happens for me."

 

 

The Malcolm Glazer Award for football romanticism: Dietmar Hopp. "Football is business. Old companies die, new ones ascend," explained Hoffenheim's benefactor.

 

 

Phil Brown Award for best half-time speech: Jürgen Klinsmann. "Men, we need a goal," said the Bayern coach when they were 0-1 down at home to Schalke. The team didn't oblige. Klinsmann was fired.

 

 

Sale of the century: Nigel de Jong to Man City for €20m in January. The little Dutch midfielder had a buy-out clause for €2m in the summer, so City paid an extra €18m for four meagre months.

 

 

Best put-down: "Klinsmann's only idea for strengthening the sqaud in January was Landon Donovan," said Uli Hoeness. "Hermann Gerland [the youth team coach] told me the guy wasn't fit to play for his reserves."

 

 

Best put-down II: "If Jürgen Klinsmann is the Obama of German football, then I'm Mother Theresa" – Uli Hoeness.

 

 

WAG of the year: Nives Celsius. Admitted to a late-night tryst with husband Dino Drpic (Karlsruhe) in the centre-cricle of Zagreb's Maksimir stadium, tried to get Drpic to play in a "69" shirt.

 

 

Best prediction: "Jürgen Klinsmann will still be on the bench come May and we will be successful." (Karl-Heinz Rummenigge)

 

 

Best excuse for losing your driver's licence: "The waiter wouldn't stop pouring wine into my glass" – Diego.

 

 

Most relevant query: "Are you a journalist or only here to drink beer?" a reporter was asked by Jürgen Klopp at a press conference.

 

 

The Gareth Barry dream move: Rafael van der Vaart (HSV) to Real Madrid. "I always wanted to play there," said the Dutch midfielder. Of course.

 

 

Tiniest problem: "Klinsmann is getting everything right in principle, apart from the results" – Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

 

 

The Toni Schumacher Award for taking out opponents: Jens Lehmann. When Hoffenheim midfielder Sejad Salihovic lost his right shoe after a foul just outside the box, the Stuttgart goalkeeper dashed out to pick up the boot and threw it over his shoulder. It landed on top of the goal-net, from where Salihovic had to retrieve it. "I've always respected Lehmann but that was unsporting conduct and should have been a yellow card," said Ralf Rangnick.

 

 

The Geordie Award for unwavering loyalty: Schalke 04. "They start lighting up flares when they win the toss for kick-off," wrote Bild.

 

 

Esoteric mumbo-jumbo award: Jürgen Klinsmann. The man from Huntington Beach wanted to build "an energy field for the players" in the training centre.

 

 

The ABN AMRO Award for the worst acquisition: Massimo Oddo, Bayern. The Italian defender from Milan came on a loan-deal but, incredibly, turned out to be worse than Christian Lell.

 

 

Best press-conference opening statement: "Please don't talk as fast as Hoffenheim played here today" – Hannover press officer Andreas Kuhnt after his team's 5-2 defeat at home.

 

 

Temp of the year: André Lenz. Wolfsburg's No2 goalkeeper came on in the 89th and 90th minute against Bayern and Hoffenheim, respectively, to claim his win bonus.

 

 

Wolfsburg's latest tourist attraction: "Mount Magath", the artificial mould the Wolfsburg manager built to chase his players up and down.

 

 

Most intimate Zweikampf: "Over the last two weeks I've had more contact with [HSV defender Joris] Mathijsen than with my wife," said Claudio Pizarro after the fourth northern derby in quick succession.

 

 

Best dig: "If you want to hear debonair comments, you go to Munich. If you want to see snazzy football, you go to Hoffenheim" – Ralf Rangnick.

 

 

Dream job according to Miroslav Klose: "Player's wife. But striker isn't too bad either."

 

 

Best court case: Felix Magath told the referee Helmut Fleischer that his match conduct had been "unter aller Sau" (translates as "beyond the pale", but is actually much more robust than that) in the game against Stuttgart. Magath was sent to the stand for this outburst but appealed against the fine, twice. In the third disciplinary hearing, the judge lowered the fine to €7,500 but confirmed the earlier findings that Magath had been guilty of unsporting behaviour. "If you tell your wife her cooking is beyond the pale, she'd feel insulted, too", said the judge. "But her cooking would improve," countered Magath.

 

 

Best high: "The last time I had such a hormonal discharge, I was five years old and in Fantasialand [amusement park]". The Gladbach defender Tobias Levels after the 4-1 win over Hamburg.

 

 

Best excuse: "Why does he run where I'm tackling?" – the Dortmund defender Neven Subotic about hacking down Demba Ba.

 

 

Best philosophy: "Win or defeat: sometimes it's down to details, sometimes down to nothing" – Lucien Favre.

 

 

Mission statement of the year: "I want to improve every single player every single day," – Jürgen Klinsmann.

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