Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I wouldn’t read anything into John [W Henry] not being here [at Anfield]. Two things: firstly he has had lot of work to do on the Boston Red Sox this year, they are approaching their pre-season now. Secondly, he also became a father again quite recently so he’s likely been busy changing nappies! I speak to John very regularly and he’s really pleased with the way things are going with the team. I know he keeps in contact with Brendan [Rodgers] regularly. I’m sure we will see him here soon. John’s commitment to Liverpool isn’t about him being at games. It’s about him being involved and committed and being supportive. All that happens on a consistent basis. We get great support from both John and Tom. I was over in Boston recently and met with all the different investors in FSG and they are greatly supportive for what we’re trying to achieve and are 100% behind us.” – Ian Ayre.
Runner-up: “Most players wait until the end of their career when they write books and put those sort of things in. He’s been honest enough to come out and say it in the middle of his, but this is something in the game we’re trying to clean up. My feeling as manager of this club is that it’s wrong and it is something we will deal with. I have only ever called it as honestly as I’ve seen it. I’ve defended him when I felt it was right and will continue to do so. He and I have a strong relationship and he understands and knows that. My feeling at the time was that it was wrong but I need to protect the group and if that’s in jeopardy I’ll speak out on it. He is aware of my feelings and when it happened, it was something only Luis could explain. The bottom line is that from my perspective as manager and leader of the club it was wrong to say what he said. It was not acceptable. Diving is not something we advocate here. Our ethics are correct and no one is bigger than the club.” – Brendan Rodgers.
Who Will Be Chelsea’s New Boss? (Hint: It’s Not Rafa!)
Abramovich rage over Rafa (David Woods, Star) Roman Abramovich will take complete control of picking Chelsea’s next boss after being swayed into hiring Rafa Benitez… A return for Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge is now looking more and more likely this summer, with Borussia Dortmund’s highly-rated boss Jurgen Klopp seemingly his closest rival. Swansea’s Michael Laudrup and Argentine Diego Simeone have also been touted as possible new managers, but they are not believed to be serious contenders.
Chelsea face Jurgen Klopp snub as club line up Joachim Low, David Moyes and Michael Laudrup as a plan B (Jeremy Wilson, Telegraph) Chelsea face the prospect of another high-profile snub if they formally approach Jurgen Klopp to be their next manager, with the Borussia Dortmund coach expected to favour the possibility of succeeding Joachim Low as Germany coach.
Zola power: Chelsea legend Gianfranco is in the frame to be named Blues manager (Mirror) Former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp, Michael Laudrup of Swansea and Diego Simeone, whose Atletico Madrid side humiliated the West Londoners in August’s UEFA SuperCup, have all been linked with the post. Frank Rijkaard is also available, after being sacked this week by Saudi Arabia. But with Blues fans starting to vote with their feet and pockets as well as showing their displeasure at interim manager Rafa Benitez, Zola will be a live option to take over in the summer when the board sit down next month to start planning the club’s future.
Gus Poyet would mend broken Bridge at Chelsea (Express) Ray Wilkins has called on Roman Abramovich to give Gus Poyet the job of leading Chelsea into a new era at the end of this season.
Pep’s Bayern Move
No easy life for Pep at Bayern… he must deliver Holy Grail (Jamie Carragher, Mail) So Pep Guardiola has taken the ‘easy’ decision. By agreeing to join Bayern Munich and rebuffing advances from the Premier League, it is being suggested he is pursuing an uncomplicated life. Nothing could be further from the truth. It has often been said that Chelsea are obsessed with the Champions League but so, too, are Bayern Munich. Guardiola has been appointed to secure the trophy they so desire within the next three years.
Is Pep Guardiola that good anyway? (Pete Jensen, Independent) There are question marks and worries for Guardiola, however. Barcelona have just broken their record for points accumulated in the first half of the season – without Guardiola. And it is true that last season, as he tampered with the team as if to prove to himself that it, and therefore he, had reached the end of a cycle – there was Champions League failure against Chelsea. And there is a potential nightmare scenario at his new club. Jupp Heynckes could do so well in what is left of his tenure that only a stunning Champions League triumph in Guardiola’s first season would be classed as an improvement on his predecessor. Despite having aready started learning German and having Spanish speakers around him in players such as Javi Martinez and Mario Gomez – as well as his close friend Manuel Estiarte (the former Spanish water polo Olympic champion who never left his side at Barcelona and who will travel to Germany with him) – he will still struggle for quickfire words of inspiration in the native tongue of his new dressing room.
Crash, bang, wallop – then you’re out! (Martin Irwin, Sun) Wilkins said: “Any manager who accepts the Chelsea job knows exactly what they are walking into. There is a big salary that comes with the job but also the understanding that you could be relieved of the post at any time. Guardiola may well have decided that he didn’t want to be in a situation like that.”
Mr Rodgers Gets Tough: Punish Luis?!
Luis Kops it: We’ll punish Suarez for ‘unacceptable’ dive claims, insists Liverpool manager Rodgers (Mail) Brendan Rodgers has torn into Luis Suarez after he admitted diving in an attempt to win a penalty earlier this season, describing the Uruguayan’s actions as ‘not acceptable’. The Liverpool manager stopped short of fining his striker but insisted he will not tolerate any behaviour that undermines the club.
Sneijder’s Liverpool Move
Wes must Kop cut if he wants Liverpool deal (Sun) Wes Sneijder chances of a Liverpool move rest on him taking a pay cut of up to £100,000 a WEEK. The Dutch playmaker is out in the cold at Inter Milan and Liverpool are long-time admirers — but his salary of 6million Euros a year AFTER TAX is way over the Reds’ budget. Galatasaray have had a £6.3million bid accepted but Sneijder, 28, would prefer the Premier League. His reluctance to commit to the Turkish giants has seen Liverpool’s initially faint hopes grow dramatically. Italian sources have revealed the Reds ARE one of the clubs he would take a wage drop for.
Liverpool want Inter star Sneijder… as long as Dutchman will accept pay cut (Dominic King, Mail) Though Sneijder does not fit the profile that Liverpool’s owners FSG target – he is too old at 28 and his salary of £6m a year is too expensive – manager Brendan Rodgers is an admirer.
Milan Target Balotelli
Appley ever after Balo? (Sun) Mario Balotelli’s agent held talks with AC Milan yesterday. As SunSport revealed last week, the champions believe the Serie A club are interested in their Italian forward — despite owner Silvio Berlusconi labelling him a ‘rotten apple’. And a bid in the region of £24million could be enough to persuade City to part with Balotelli this month.
Wembley Name Change?
Wembley Stadium to be renamed in Football Association deal with mobile phone company EE (Telegraph) The FA is understood to have concluded negotiations with 4G mobile phone provider EE and will announce a deal whereby the stadium will become known as “Wembley Stadium in association with EE”, “Wembley Stadium supported by EE” or another similar construction. The imminent renaming of arguably the most famous sporting venue in the world will dismay those who feel it should be ‘above’ commercial deals.
FA consider shock £8m deal to label home of football as ‘Wembley Stadium in association with EE’ (Mail) The Football Association are considering renaming Wembley Stadium in a controversial move that will outrage fans. In a deal worth a reported £8million-a-year, the historic ground will be known as ‘Wembley Stadium in association with EE’ in a tie in with the mobile phone operator. The FA agreed a similar deal for the FA Cup, which is officially known as the FA Cup Sponsored By Budweiser.
Arsenal: Walcott So So Close, Jack The Lad
Theo closes in on new deal (Anthony Kastrinakis, Sun) Theo Walcott has finally agreed a new contract at Arsenal. The England ace, 23, is expected to sign a five-year deal today worth nearly £100,000 a week. Boss Arsene Wenger confirmed: “I hope it will be signed before the weekend. There is a possibility. My optimism is at 99 per cent now.”
Time is right to wear the skipper’s armband (Steven Howard, Sun) The next step would appear for Wilshere to be named Arsenal skipper, an appointment that would be greeted with huge enthusiasm by Arsenal’s hard-pressed supporters… It might not be such bad news for Thomas Vermaelen, either, as the current incumbent has struggled under the weight of leading the team.
So Near, Yet So Zaha
Sir Alex Ferguson to nab Eagles whizz-kid Wilfried Zaha (Star) Manchester United are on the verge of wrapping up a £10m deal for Crystal Palace whizz-kid Wilfried Zaha. United look set to win the race for winger Zaha after offering around £8m up front plus another £2m in add-ons.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger concedes defeat over Edinson Cavani but may still try to sign Wilfried Zaha (Telegraph) Arsenal are still considering a late bid to beat Manchester United to the signing of Wilfried Zaha but manager Arsène Wenger has conceded that it would be virtually impossible to recruit Edinson Cavani during this transfer window.
Troubled Aston Villa put Roberto Di Matteo on alert (Express) Aston Villa are lining up Roberto Di Matteo as a replacement for Paul Lambert if their plummet down the table continues.
Pardew: Buy us two new players or we’re doomed (Sun) Saint-Etienne’s Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 23, and PSV Eindhoven’s Jeremain Lens, 25, have been linked with a move… Pardew has ruled out any players leaving this month, despite AC Milan’s £10m move for Dutch keeper Tim Krul.
Hoops ‘n Dan £10m raid (Sun) Norwich have launched a £10million attempt to land strikers Gary Hooper AND Danny Graham.
No way Jose! ‘Arrogant’ Bosingwa in £8m contract cash deadlock with QPR (Mail) Queens Park Rangers are desperate to off-load Jose Bosingwa but the defender is apparently refusing to leave for less than the £8million outstanding on his deal.
Valdes refusing to sign new contract fueling rumours he will join Guardiola at Bayern (Mail) Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes is planning to leave the Spanish giants after he had turned down the chance to sign a new deal.
Manchester United give Jeff Schlupp trial but lose Darren Fletcher (Independent) Manchester United have taken the young Leicester City attacker Jeff Schlupp on trial with a view to signing him on a permanent deal.