Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “But I am where I want to be. I wouldn’t change it for anything. If you told me now every job in the football world was at this table, I would choose my job. It’s a job I was offered and I accepted immediately, the only job I want to have. I’m still very confident. But, at the same time, I’m more stable, more mature. If I was a proud guy because of what I did before I came here, now I’ve done more: I’ve been at Inter[nazionale], [Real] Madrid, won titles … I’m very calm, very relaxed, but I didn’t just choose a comfortable position because I’m returning to a house where I was happy and successful and where the fans love me. No. I’m coming with exactly the opposite perspective. I have more responsibility because of that. The expectations are higher because people know what I can deliver.” – Jose Mourinho.
Runner-up: “Of course I would like to play with Ronaldo, he is a great player. You never know, but it is complicated. ‘At the moment he is in Madrid and I am in Liverpool and I do not know what is going to happen. I know I made a mistake in the incident with Ivanovic – it was me, my fault, and he did not do anything to me. I was angry because I had given away a penalty for handball. I was the reason for the penalty against my team – I saw red and completely lost it. I can’t really explain it and I am so sorry – but the reaction was amazing.” – Luis Suarez.
Jose wants Rooney at Chelsea
Are Roo happy like me? (Shaun Custis, Sun) Jose Mourinho has told wantaway Manchester United star Wayne Rooney: Do what makes you happy. The England striker has asked United for a transfer. And returning Chelsea boss Mourinho opened the door for a possible move to Stamford Bridge by admitting: “I like him. He is at a fantastic age. “He has maturity, big experience and is still young. It’s up to him and what he wants, what makes him happy.” Rooney, 27, is due to have talks with new Old Trafford boss David Moyes over his future following Alex Ferguson’s retirement. But it is understood he is interested in what Chelsea have to say. Mourinho added: “He’s a little bit like me. He doesn’t need one more pound in his contract and one more cup won’t make a difference. Be happy. “Where is he happy? Where will he find more happiness to have ambition and drive him?”
Manchester United linked with Robert Lewandowski
Defiant Dortmund dangle Robert Lewandowski in front of Manchester United (David Anderson, Daily Mirror) Manchester United can have Roberto Lewandowski for £25.5million after his club Borussia Dortmund blocked the striker’s move to German rivals Bayern Munich. Dortmund are adamant Poland international Lewandowski will NOT be joining Bayern, who they finished as runners-up to in last season’s German league and European Cup Final, this summer. And that has opened the door for Premier League champions United to launch a bid, with Dortmund not standing in the way of a move to England. Outgoing United boss Sir Alex Ferguson tracked the Polish hitman last summer and considered signing him before he opted for Robin van Persie. Now, Fergie’s successor David Moyes has inherited the club’s scouting dossier on Lewandowski and must decide if he wants to rekindle their interest at a time when there is uncertainty over Wayne Rooney’s future at Old Trafford. Dortmund are demanding 30million euros (£25.5m) for Lewandowski, who has 12 months left on his contract and can walk away for nothing this time next year.
Fabregas also set for Old Trafford
Fab news for Red Devils as Cesc and Lewandowski give Moyes the nod (Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail) Manchester United are increasingly confident they can bring Cesc Fabregas and Robert Lewandowski to Old Trafford this summer after being given private encouragement from both players. New United manager David Moyes would ideally like to bring both the Barcelona midfielder and Borussia Dortmund’s Polish international striker to the club before his squad departs on a tour of Asia and Australia in the middle of next month. It is understood that both players have expressed an interest in joining the Barclays Premier League champions and that United feel they can do the deals.
Is Thiago Alcantara heading to Manchester?
Manchester United join neighbours City in chase for Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara (Alan Nixon, Daily Mirror) New Manchester United boss David Moyes has launched a £15million bid to sign Barcelona starlet Thiago Alcantara. Moyes has put chief scout Jim Lawlor on the case to set up a deal for Spain Under-21 skipper Alcantara, who is currently on duty at the age-group European Championship in Israel. Midfielder Alcantara is available as Barca are willing to cash in for big money, and he is growing fed up at a lack of regular game-time. The young star, who’s also being linked with Manchester City, has been on Moyes’ radar before, but he was out of touch when he was in charge at Everton. Now though, with the greater financial clout of United behind him, wheels are turning.
Florentino Perez compares Gareth Bale to Rafa Nadal
Real Madrid hint at bid for Spurs’ Gareth Bale that would smash their £80m world transfer record (Darren Lewis, Daily Mirror) Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez has insisted Gareth Bale would be worth the world record £85million it would take to sign him. Such a monster price-tag would top the current record – the £80m Real paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo four years ago. But Perez puts buying Wales forward Bale on a par with investing in tennis winning-machine Rafael Nadal, who lifted his record-breaking eighth French Open title on Sunday. Perez said: “It is the same as one would think if we had a tennis section and Nadal was asking us for all this money. “For these players that generate and produce income, you can give your whole life.”
Real Madrid’s warning to Arsenal over Gonzalo Higuain
Perez: Get Real, Arsenal (Antony Kastrinakis, Sun) Florentino Perez has told Arsenal to get Real over their valuation of Madrid star Gonzalo Higuain. The Gunners are locked in a tug of war with Juventus for the Argentina striker and Perez hinted he will cost upwards of £30m — much more than the £20m Arsenal were set to offer. Real president Perez insisted he will demand top dollar for Higuain, 25, who has three years left on his Madrid deal. He said: “With £25.5m it’s better that they don’t come. “Let’s see if people ask us for £50m for everyone and we sell one of ours for half that.” Perez has decided to block any bids for Higuain before finalizing the capture of new boss Carlo Ancelotti from Paris Saint-Germain.
Reaction to Jose Mourinho’s first presser as returning Chelsea boss
New era, but same old Jose! Don’t be fooled by the quiet start, Mourinho is back at Chelsea ready for a scrap (Martin Samuel, Daily Mail) Happy, home, humble. Those expecting a bravura, ego-has-landed performance from Jose Mourinho on his return to Stamford Bridge would have been left slightly disappointed by the sight before their eyes. In the place of His Specialness — as Carlo Ancelotti took to calling him — was a bespectacled, grey-haired 50-year-old, quieter, wiser, sober-suited and no longer intent on beating the hornets’ nest with a stick. The word du jour was stability. Mourinho craved it, so did Chelsea. They were the perfect match. Mourinho even claimed that improvement in his first season, rather than the league title or ultimate goal of the Champions League, would be enough to satisfy the insatiable appetite of owner Roman Abramovich.
José Mourinho relishes return to Chelsea and beloved Premier League (Daniel Taylor, Guardian) There was a moment, away from all the cameras, when José Mourinho could sit down and try to put into words what has changed at the age of 50. “More grey hair,” he began. Then he reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a pair of reading glasses. “And these …” The new José, he told us. Older, wiser. Less confrontational, more clued-up. “Humble” was the word he used. Well, until the moment he was reminded of the time, at one of his first Chelsea press conferences, he had lifted his hand above his head to show approximately where he regarded his own ego. Did he still feel the same? “Of course,” he replied, and for the first time he cracked a smile. “I’m still very confident. But, at the same time, I’m more stable, more mature. If I was a proud guy because of what I did before, now I’ve done more. I’ve been at Inter Milan, Real Madrid, I’ve won titles. The only thing that affects me is the glasses, man. After that, I’m happier than ever.”
José Mourinho’s unveiling fails even to excite the Portuguese himself (Barney Ronay, Guardian) The point is, everybody here is happy. In particular José himself, sitting at the head of the table like a disappointed dad grimly insisting that everybody, everybody in this family, is going to get on from now on. He just didn’t actually look it – although no doubt that will come and there was enough here in his exploratory jabs and nips at his fellow Premier League managers to suggest the season will deliver the required adversarial drama. Plus of course even for José, who during the working season employs the press conference as a kind of pre-emptive artillery barrage, this must have seemed a strangely hollow, massively important event, a muscular and mob-handed furore that was in effect entirely pointless given Mourinho has no match to prepare for, no plan in place, hasn’t met his players and isn’t likely to tell you about it anyway, even if he had. “My enemies read tomorrow’s newspapers,” he said at one point (his enemies are, of course, disastrously Old Media).
Who’s this guy? The Especially Happy One (Steven Howard, Sun) Well, it certainly looked like Jose Mourinho. A bit older, maybe, a few more grey hairs and now requiring a pair of spectacles. But it didn’t sound like him. Where was the old rabble-rouser, the scourge of referees, the man described by UEFA as “the enemy of football”? The man who drove Anders Frisk into retirement, alienated fans and managers all over Italy and Spain with his outrageous comments and, infamously, poked then-Barcelona assistant manager Tito Vilanova in the eye during a Spanish Super Cup match at the Nou Camp? And then, for good measure, referred to him as “Pito” Vilanova — Spanish slang for penis. We scoured Stamford Bridge but he was nowhere to be seen. In his place was this smooth-talking diplomat, this 50-year-old family man who had learned from all his mistakes and wouldn’t now be saying boo — or moo — to a goose. A man in total contrast to the young shaver who came charging into Stamford Bridge trumpeting his huge success at Porto, slagging off former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri as a man who had only ever won the Spanish Cup and then anointing himself as the Special One.
Jose Mourinho preached happiness during his second unveiling as new Chelsea manager, but appeared sombre (Jim White, Daily Telegraph) It wasn’t like this when Avram Grant was introduced. They are used to unveiling new managers at Chelsea, but this time, what has become a mundane, annual event at Stamford Bridge was sprinkled in star dust. Jose Mourinho’s second coming attracted such a huge crowd to the Ron Harris Suite, it was a ticket only event. More than 250 journalists, 45 television crews and a flashmob of photographers were assembled to bring word of the Special One’s return across the world. This was The Special One Part Two. And when he arrived, through a guard of honour of telephoto lenses, as he stood at the top table, holding up a Chelsea shirt, the television news anchors would have been obliged to issue their standard warning about flash photography. The room was alight in excitement, giddy with the privilege of reporting the return to the Premier League of box office.
Jack Rodwell’s England handling shames Roy Hodgson, Stuart Pearce and the Football Association (Henry Winter, Daily Telegraph) When England’s troubled power brokers gather for the post-mortem on the stiffening cadaver of the Under-21s’ brief and traumatic stay at the European Championship in Israel, the revealing case of Jack Rodwell must pepper their conversation and shape their conclusions. Rodwell represents many of the hopes and fears, missed opportunities and misuse that define a generation. England will not improve in the short term or long term unless they learn the lesson of Rodwell. For all Stuart Pearce’s anger at losing players to the England first team, the Under-21s manager could have selected the Manchester City player, who was eventually scrambled for senior duty by Roy Hodgson only when Tom Cleverley fell lame. So England went into action in Israel with less accomplished midfielders like Jason Lowe and Jonjo Shelvey partnering the captain Jordan Henderson in the first Group A challenge against Italy, a game when England’s inability to keep the ball was painfully highlighted. Rodwell would have done better. He certainly could not have done any worse.
Could England’s Under-21 nightmare in Israel prompt a remarkable international recall for Glenn Hoddle? (Jonathan Liew, Daily Telegraph) In England’s hour of darkness, Hoddle has become a keyboard shortcut for “the right sort of football”. There is a double nostalgia at work here. Not just for Hoddle the player, a shimmying allegory for English football’s ambivalent relationship with genius, but for Hoddle the coach, to whom posterity has been surprisingly kind. In the age of the fascist Premier League manager, Hoddle’s downfall is a relic of a more innocent age, in which reasonably successful England bosses could be dispensed with because of dubious personal beliefs, rather than hired in spite of them. The question is whether today’s Hoddle is anything more than an armful of happy memories. Certainly, it is arguable whether he could do anything with England’s present-day crop. With the most gifted youngsters quickly siphoned into full colours, the current squad is full of quasi-talents like Danny Rose, a player whose entire existence essentially boils down to one moment of grace – a 35-yard thunderbolt in the north London derby in 2010 – which with hindsight now looks like a wildly auspicious attempt to trap the ball.
Mario Balotelli to get married
Balo asks Fanny to Mari him (Richard Moriarty, Sun) Mario Balotelli is set to wed girlfriend Fanny Neguesha — after proposing with a £100,000 ring. The former Manchester City ace gave the Belgian beauty a huge diamond sparkler at the weekend. The happy couple, who began dating six months ago, are now planning a lavish ceremony for later this year. Fanny posted a pic of her ring on her Instagram page, with the caption: “It official . . . like me.”