Loving to hate Incredible Sulk

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:07 AM ET

Michael Jordan once said that while talent wins games, it's teamwork and intelligence that wins championships.

But no one bothered to tell Nicolas Anelka. And if they did, he didn't listen.

Blessed with electric pace, power and a goal-scorer's touch, the Frenchman has the talent to be one of the finest of his generation.

Instead, he's become the most hated.

At the age of just 25, he's had more clubs than Pamela Anderson has had boob jobs.

And his career, rather like the latter's assets, has started to deflate.

So he's up to his old tricks again: moaning, refusing to play and trying to engineer another lucrative move.

"If I'm going to score goals and not win there's a risk it's going to create a feeling of being fed up,'' he recently told French magazine But (after his usual method of giving an interview in French, only to complain that the translation led to 'misunderstandings').

"My objective is to give my maximum for City in order to find a big club.''

Ah yes, the search for a big club - preferably one big enough to match his ego.

That might be a problem, given that he's already outgrown the fans, coaches and players at Arsenal, Real Madrid and Liverpool - to name but a few big clubs.

GAMBLING SCHMUCKS

But still, there's always some schmuck who's prepared to gamble millions on the Incredible Sulk, as he was known at Arsenal.

Step forward Fenerbahce, the Turkish ... excuse me while I clear my throat ... giants, who are apparently preparing a multimillion-dollar offer.

Problem is, they'll have to deal with Anelka's agents - who handily double up as his brothers - and their wage demands. There's also the small problem of the huge transfer fee, since City reportedly still owe Anelka's former club about $10 million.

Then again, according to Anelka, the situation could be eased somewhat if City would just stop asking him to waste his energy by running after the players on the other team when they have the ball.

"I play as a striker, but also as a midfielder and I tire a lot doing things I shouldn't be doing,'' said Le Sulk. "I would like to concentrate on being a striker.''

Which for Anelka means standing in the penalty box and twiddling his thumbs until the ball arrives, preferably gift-wrapped by his less-talented teammates.

Anelka's coach at City, former England boss Kevin Keegan, seems to have the patience of a saint. But even he - having spent virtually his entire transfer budget on Le Sulk - seems to be tiring of the boy.

"We need everybody fit right now and I put players out against Arsenal who were not 100%. But Nicolas wasn't one of them,'' Keegan told the Daily Mirror. "He didn't feel he could even take a fitness test, which I have to say I was a bit disappointed with.''

Which is a very polite way of saying that Anelka refused to play. But things could be about to get a whole lot worse for Mr. Keegan.

At Madrid, Anelka tore strips off his teammates for refusing to pass to him.

And at Arsenal, he reportedly took legal advice in an attempt to break his contract and force a move away from the London club.

HE'LL ONLY PLAY IF ...

In November 2002, he also refused to play for France and told Paris-Match (no translation necessary this time) that he would only consider playing for his country again "if (coach) Santini gets down on his knees in front of me and says sorry.''

Suprisingly enough, it didn't happen. But before too long, a move away from City will.

And Le Sulk will once again start his search for a bigger club.

By giving an interview with a French magazine. And getting a large slice of the transfer fee. Not necessarily in that order.


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