Out-of-favour trio just a striking bunch of cads

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 September, 1999, 12:00am

It was not a good week for Benito Carbone, Paolo di Canio and Nicolas Anelka, alias 'The Strikers From Hell'.

Italian stallions Carbone and Di Canio were accused by Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dave Richards of 'killing' the club while Anelka, the French show pony with a stud value of US$33 million but precious little staying power, looks destined for the knacker's yard.

The criticism directed at the talented but troublesome trio was more knee jerk than reasoned but was pretty much justified.

Bobby Robson's fairytale first home game at Newcastle was a horror story for Sheffield Wednesday as they conceded eight goals and boss Richards portrayed Carbone and Di Canio, who is no longer with the side, as the vampires who sucked the club dry.

Carbone, a crowd-pleasing showman with a lethal shot, also happens to be a prima donna and his startling walkout when recently placed on the substitute's bench by manager Danny Wilson was a slap in the face for his fellow players, management and fans.

Di Canio, equally as talented and similarly temperamental, brought disgrace on Wednesday last season when he felled referee Paul Alcock during a match against Arsenal.

Anelka engineered his transfer from Arsenal but his Parisian swagger, backstreet ways and, more importantly, lack of goals have won few friends in Madrid.

Manager John Toshack has said that the striker 'does not look comfortable at the moment', a euphemism for 'he is a complete waste of money', and former Spanish national coach Javier Clemente said his US$33 million transfer fee was an 'insult to society'.

He added, for good measure: 'To throw seven billion pesetas out of the window when you could do so many other things [with the money] is disgraceful.' Whether or not Carbone and Di Canio are guilty of 'killing' Sheffield Wednesday and Anelka is responsible for Read Madrid going without goals, their actions have hardly been out of character.

Wilson, Toshack and the guys that sign the cheques at Sheffield Wednesday and Real Madrid took on packages that should come with government health warnings.

Di Canio so infuriated the Celtic board and spectators with his petulance during his time with the club that he would be hung, drawn and quartered if he came within a mile of their Glasgow ground, Parkhead, and Carbone did not receive many gold stars for his behaviour at Inter Milan.

As for Anelka, his treatment of Arsenal was warning enough of a suspect personality. He had a fellow countryman and respected tactician, Arsene Wenger, as a boss, two of his nation's best players, Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera, as teammates and one of the world's most gifted footballers, Dennis Bergkamp, as provider of passes - yet he was 'unsettled'.

Anelka has threatened to quit football due to his problems at Real Madrid and if the club are insured against such a possibility, they are probably wishing he does exactly that.

While some managers do succeed in taming wild spirits - Sir Alex Ferguson's handling of Eric Cantona at Manchester United being an obvious example - the football-without-frontiers attitude prevalent in Europe at the moment will lead to more cases like that of Carbone, Anelka and Di Canio.

Their initials spell it out for you - CADs.