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The crazy world of Man City during Sven's time in charge and the week's best sportswriting

Also, looking back on Hatton v Mayweather 10 years on and the rise of native-born African players in the NFL.

Sven Goran-Eriksson (centre) with Thaksin Shinawatra (right) and Micah Ricards.
Sven Goran-Eriksson (centre) with Thaksin Shinawatra (right) and Micah Ricards.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

1. “DURING THE SECOND game, City striker Valeri Bojinov sat on the bench eating Kentucky Fried Chicken while early one morning in Bangkok, Hamann arrived at the team hotel after a late night and fell asleep by the pool. He was woken by his manager carrying two glasses of champagne and in his book, The Didi Man, the German revealed, ‘I said: “Boss, what are we celebrating?” He said, “Life, Kaiser. We are celebrating life”. He added, “You know Kaiser, I like this place. I think I’ll come back here and live with two women. Yes. I think I need two beautiful women”. By the end of that summer, one of Shinawatra’s closest advisors, Pairoj Piempongsant, had led him to Sheik Mansour of Abu Dhabi. Shortly after the start of season 2008-09 City became the richest club in the world. Without Shinawatra, would City be where they are now? Was he the vital, if accidental, link in the chain? Or would the Sheik have bought the club anyway? Whatever your view, Shinawatra made £90m from the sale, has homes in six countries and now travels the world on a Montenegrin passport.”

Ian Ladyman’s account of Thaksin Shinawatra’s 2007 purchase of Manchester City in the Daily Mail includes comical anecdotes involving Sven-Goran Eriksen, Stephen Ireland and chain-smoking Vedran Corluka

2. “I was born a few months after Glen. Did everything together. At playschool together, everything,” he said. “When he died, it was a big shock. Even now, when I see his Ma, I don’t know what to say. Glen was out, they went to wake him up and he wouldn’t wake. Glen died at 18. Then Dicey died. He went down to his Ma’s house in Mayo. Died on the sofa. That was a decade ago, but it’s only a few months since O’Brien, who won the BUI Celtic light middleweight title in October, lost another great friend.Me mate, Git… When we were out smoking blow and robbing cars it’d be me and Git and a couple of others. The same crew. We were very close,” he said. “Git was in Mountjoy before the summer and was speaking to his family at seven o’clock in the evening. Then they got a call at 9pm to go to the hospital. They found him unconscious in his cell and rushed him to the hospital. “Great character, brilliant fella. He was 28. Oded. That could have been me, easily could have been me… Young Darren died. Bubbles died. My mate up the road, Marty, died on a motorbike. That’s six of us friends that used to be together all the time. It’s still the norm now, whether it’s Sheriff Street or Summerhill. Some get caught up in stuff, some don’t. My own brother’s a drug addict. That’s unfortunate to see every day. It’s crazy. I still go to Glen’s grave on every fight day.”

The Irish Daily Star’s chief sports Kieran Cunningham speaks to BUI Celtic light middleweight boxer Craig O’Brien, who has had to deal losing a number of loved ones growing up in inner-city Dublin

3.  “At the time of Okoye’s retirement, there were only a handful of native-born or first-generation Africans playing in the NFL, but major American colleges and high schools had already begun to recruit from this newfound pool of talent. The influx into the NFL over the past two decades would only proliferate. Okoye’s stardom inspired many native-born and first-generation Africans to play football and dream of playing in the NFL. “It was everything,” said Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, a former Pro Bowl defensive lineman with the Green Bay Packers who is the son of Nigerian parents and grew up in South Central Los Angeles. “I remember looking at Christian Okoye. Just the fact that he was Nigerian was cool. I felt, if he can do it, I can do it, too. I’m delighted to see it [the influx of African players in the NFL].” Gbaja-Biamila was part of a second wave of native-born or first-generation African immigrants to make headlines in the NFL. Nnamdi Asomugha, born to Nigerian parents and raised in Los Angeles, was a Pro Bowl cornerback who played 10 years for the Raiders, Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora, born in London to Nigerian parents, and Mathias Kiwanuka, the Indiana-born grandson of Uganda’s first prime minister, Benedicto Kiwanuka, teamed up to help lead the New York Giants to two Super Bowl victories.”

Sunni Khalid writes about the rise of native-born and first-generation African players in the NFl for The Undefeated

4. “There’s a hugely culturally important scene in the movie So I Married An Axe Murderer, where Mike Myers (playing his own dad) explains How Stuff Works to his son’s friend. “Well,” he barks, “it’s a well-known fact, sonny Jim, that there’s a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world known as The Pentaverate, who run everything in the world, including the newspapers, and who meet triannually at a secret country mansion in Colorado known as … The Meadows.” The friend humours him by asking who’s in this Pentaverate. “The Queen, the Vatican, the Gettys, the Rothschilds,” comes the reply, “AND Colonel Sanders before he went tits up …” I was reminded of this when I read of the latest theory about football bias: in this case, the notion that Match of the Day pundits, including Ian Wright, are biased against Arsenal. This claim is hotly disputed – mostly by the pundits in question, but also, tacitly, by all the fans of other clubs who know that, actually, it’s their club against which Match of the Day is biased. And the newspapers and the referees. Well – I have news. But before we go any further I want you to be absolutely sure that you want to take football’s reddest pill, because there’s really no going back once you have. OK?”

Marina Hyde of The Guardian exposes the massive media conspiracy against whichever Premier League club you happen to follow 

5. “Digital images of perhaps the world’s most famous rapper flash across giant screens. The screens rise toward the ceiling of Little Caesars Arena, the most recent of three new sports venues to emerge in downtown Detroit. It’s where the Pistons play. Near one side of Jay-Z’s 360-degree stage, LeBron James, perhaps the world’s most famous current NBA player, can barely control his fandom as Jay-Z delivers his 1999 hit with UGK, “Big Pimpin’.” James and the rest of his team are in town ahead of a Pistons game. For nearly two hours, the arena is roaring. And as the last few fans spill onto Woodward Avenue — the drag in downtown Detroit that also houses Comerica Park, where the Detroit Tigers play, and Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play — the party ain’t over. Far from it. That’s because the area is a far cry from what it was 15 years ago, when the downtown landscape was practically bare. Empty and windowless brick buildings were the standard. Every now and again you could fall into a hidden gem — a teahouse in neighboring Corktown, near the old Tiger Stadium, served a good quiche, and crumpets with fresh preserves. But those kinds of places were few and far between.”

Also in The Undefeated, Kelly L Carter wonders if the changes to downtown Detroit brought about by three new arenas will be for the better…

6. “There were no corporate gimmicks to tempt money from the wallets of those attached to him, and trash-talking was left to rivals. ”It’s a little bit old hat, the selling, the talking, the slagging off,” Hatton, 39, tells BBC Sport. ”Sometimes you see people in boxing these days with the gift of the gab saying what they can, name calling to shift tickets. I was one who never did anything like that and I shifted more tickets than anyone. ”If you remain down-to-earth, humble, respectful and do it with a twinkle in your eye, some wit, some charity work, I think that’s what the public prefer to see. ”I go to the boxing, I go to the football, I go to the pub, I play darts for the local team and football for the local team. I was no different to my fans and that’s what they liked.” The formula seems almost too simple. Yet it worked in a way no-one has managed since. It drew in Hollywood too, with actors Brad Pitt and Sylvester Stallone among those to visit Hatton’s notoriously rowdy changing room during his career.”

This week marks 10 years since Ricky Hatton fought Floyd Mayweather Jr in Las Vegas, and the Mancuncian reflects a decade on with the BBC’s Luke Reddy

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Premier League ‘to boost TV matches’ in bumper deal

Do all football fans really want impartial analysis?

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