Outside the Box: Drogba and Anelka in limbo after chairman's China crisis

 

The fragility of some of football's new markets has been exposed by the problems at Shanghai Shenhua, the club where Didier Drogba joined Nicolas Anelka this summer, matching his former Chelsea team-mate's salary of a reported £200,000 per week.

There is now some doubt as to whether the pair will turn out in the team's next game in a fortnight's time after the chairman, Zhu Jun, said he will not invest any more money until he is given greater control under an agreement with five state-owned companies who also have an interest in the club.

Zhu Jun, who currently owns just under 30 per cent, claims to have invested more than £60m while the other companies have spent nothing. Like a good capitalist, he now wants overall control.

For all the investment so far, the team are no higher than 10th in the Chinese Super League, winning only five of their opening 23 games and scoring little more than a goal a game. That is made worse by the fact that the other financial superpower, Guangzhou Evergrande – the Manchester City to Shanghai's Chelsea – who appointed the World Cup-winning Marcello Lippi as coach, sit on top the table and are preparing for an assault on the Asian Champions' League, in which they are due to play a quarter-final in two weeks' time.

Fergie's sticky Toffee day

Sir Alex Ferguson, furious with the Football Association for revealing that Ashley Young is injured – "Why didn't they name the bloody [England] squad on Sunday?" – has recalled that he used to be more open with Manchester United team news.

"When we played Everton in my first season, we decided to play three centre-backs and we'd been working on it all week. Then on the Saturday Graeme Hogg has a back-page story in the papers saying 'how we are going to beat Everton'! I couldn't believe it." It is fair to surmise that Mr Hogg felt the hairdryer at its hottest.

Great trainer snobbery

Once upon a time footballers would taunt each other with "put your caps on the table". These days it would appear to be their footwear; even though the table would be in danger of collapsing.

Step forward West Bromwich Albion's goalkeeper Ben Foster, revealed as the Imelda Marcos of football after confessing that he owns no fewer than 300 pairs of trainers. Foster has poured good-natured scorn on his Midlands rival Marc Albrighton of Aston Villa for his collection of a mere 60 pairs, calling him "an amateur".

Admitting that he was "obsessive about them", the well-heeled Baggie explained that Nike had produced a limited edition replica of the "MAGS" that Michael J Fox wore in Back to the Future to mark the film's 25th anniversary. They were auctioned on eBay in the United States and Foster persuaded a friend to bid for him, eventually winning them for $6,500 (£4,150). Whoever said some footballers have more money than sense?

Kamara out on a limb

The Sky Sports pundit Chris Kamara has been forced to apologise to Nottingham Forest after a national newspaper listed them as relegation favourites in his preview of this season's Championship.

Kamara claims he said nothing of the sort and that the newspaper in question has admitted as much. Forest supporters were shocked by such pessimism – though not as surprised as fans of Leeds, who Kamara tipped to be champions.

Let's pedal for Petrov

Good cause of the week is Aston Villa's justgiving.com/pedalforpetrov campaign in which two of the club's masseurs hope to raise £250,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. The club captain, Stiliyan Petrov, was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; twitter.com/@stevetongue

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