West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola has stared in to the hate-filled eyes of Craig Bellamy and come out of the experience a better man for it. Or at least he's grateful to only have to do it twice a season now rather than every day in training.
Related ArticlesLiverpool buy-out reports dismissedWest Ham and Millwall charged over racismFernando Torres 'can still improve'Liverpool 6 Hull City 1Zola: Bellamy made me better managerSunderland 5 Wolves 2Steve Bruce will this morning be sending mischievous scamps Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones to the Stadium of Light naughty step for carving up the two Sunderland penalties against Wolves yesterday between them, against the gaffer's wishes. And if they don't wipe those smirks off their faces he is going to sell them to Ipswich. There, not so funny now is it, eh?
And it's West Ham 4 Millwall 3. In terms of FA charges that will be landing through the London clubs' letter boxes this morning, anyway, after both sides have been blamed for their 'nawty little tear up' in the Carling Cup.
PRINCES AND PAUPERS:
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And let's face it, Liverpool's attempts to better the ruling class of English football and claim a first title since Wayne Rooney was still in nappies have become increasingly desperate over recent years, so something needs to be done.
So, after signing a massive shirt sponsorship deal to put even Manchester United in the shade they have clocked the goings on at Manchester City and, once again, decided that the must have accessory for a team trying to overhaul United and Chelsea is an unimaginably wealthy benefactor from the Middle East.
And so in the stands for Liverpool's cake walk against Hull City at the weekend was Saudi Prince Faisal bin Fahad bin Abdullah Al Saud, a guest of the ever popular George Gillett, one of Liverpool's co-owners.
Gillett, you see, is looking for the best man he can get to buy out his business partner Tom Hicks. Somewhere between £200m and £350m (what's £150m between minted egomaniacs anyway?) is a fair price, according to the American. Not so says Hicks, presumably through an intermediary, the pair having exchanged few words of late.
The noise from the Hicks camp is that he's in it for the long haul, words to strike fear in to the heart of any right thinking Liverpool fan, as well as the hundreds of thousands of hysterical, reactionary ones, too.
Gillett is feeling flush at present after selling the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey franchise this summer for £300m and reckons the big squeeze can be put on Hicks.
Prince Faisal, too, is talking the talk, telling anyone who'll listen that the deal is as good as done.
'We're seeking to buy 50 per cent of the shares in the club which is suffering debts of £245 million,' he told the Al Riyadh news agency, an organ as closely linked to Saudi Arabia's repressive ruling class as his own diggle is.
'The transaction, on which a decision is close, will be worth between £200 million and £350 million.'
The denizens of the Kop who regularly hold up anti Gillet-Hicks placards appear to be unconcerned about where this prospective money is coming from, as long as it comes, their main gripe with the Americans being the not unjustified quibble that when they bought the club they actually had barely a pot to relieve themselves in.
Should the sale go through, which sources close to Hicks suggest is about as likely as Paul Hart and Phil Brown both being in gainful employment at Christmas, it ought to mean a transfer bounty for Rafa Benítez and no repeat of this summer's farce where they felt compelled to sell one of their best players when a big club came and dangled a load of euros in front of their face.
Benítez, however, reckons that even without an injection of oil money there isn't enough cash in the world to tempt the club to sell Fernando Torres.
'This year we had some agents acting for Man City other English clubs who were coming to us asking about the price of Torres, with big, big figures,' said Benítez after the Spanish forward had given a masterclass in how to shoot tigers in a barrel.
'But we said that he is not for sale at any price. People say that every player has a price, but we don't want to sell any player,' he continued, as, over in Madrid, Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo shared a knowing glance.