Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I have a contract with Liverpool. I am happy in Liverpool. I love Liverpool, but this year was very difficult for me, my wife and my daughter. I’ve already talked with Brendan Rodgers, he knows what I want. He understands my situation. I have a family, a daughter, and I am not prepared to keep enduring the English press.” – Luis Suarez.
Runner-up: “Even though results haven’t been great, felt tactically England were maturing, but this is a step back to the dark ages of 2 lines of 4. It’s not about playing in straight lines, it’s about playing between the lines. Depth gives flexibility, passing alternatives, creativity.” – Gary Lineker.
Jose Mourinho signs on at Chelsea
Jose signs (Rob Beasley, Sun) Jose Mourinho is Chelsea’s new boss — and that’s official! The Special One sealed a spectacular £40million four-year deal on Tuesday night. A senior Blues source revealed: “It’s official Jose is a Chelsea man again! Everyone is delighted he’s coming back — the club, the players and the fans. “We are already looking forward to next season — we are sure it’s going to be very exciting.” The Sun exclusively told you on May 3 that Real Madrid chief Mourinho was heading back to the Bridge. And we can now reveal Mourinho finally put pen to paper during a two-day trip to London this week. His cover story was attending the Crystal Palace-Watford play-off final at Wembley on Monday and visiting friends in the capital. But the real purpose of the visit was to seal an emotional return to his beloved Blues along with right-hand man Rui Faria. Now it is expected he will be unveiled next week in a blaze of publicity by the Europa League champions.
Jose Mourinho will be a ‘disaster’ at Chelsea, claims Barcelona vice-president Carles Vilarrubi (Jim White, Daily Telegraph) From Spain comes a stark warning of what lies ahead. If, as expected, Jose Mourinho is appointed manager of Chelsea, according to one leading figure in La Liga, we can anticipate nothing but turmoil and disorder. “It is not good for English football. Chelsea maybe think they had a good time from him in the past. But you will see the real Mourinho now. If he behaves like he did in Spain it will only be an unhappy relationship. A disaster. And at his age he is not going to change.” It is fair to say when Mourinho makes his final appearance as coach of Real Madrid in the game against Osasuna on Saturday, Carles Vilarrubi will not be shuffling into line to participate in any guard of honour. The vice-president of Barcelona last week described the Portuguese’s departure as “a scourge being lifted from the face of Spanish football”. And his view had not softened during a short trip to England earlier this week.
Who doesn’t want Gareth Bale?!
Tottenham’s Gareth Bale is £80m target for Manchester United AND Manchester City AND Chelsea (John Cross, Daily Mirror) Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is fighting a losing battle in his attempts to keep Gareth Bale. Real Madrid have lined up a full-scale assault to sign Bale this summer and will make a £60million bid – but the Spanish giants will have to do better than that if they want to tempt Levy to sell. That’s because, we understand, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have all made it clear they are prepared to pay £80m for the Welshman. Spurs would be reluctant to sell to a Premier League rival, but all five clubs would move in with concrete bids given the slightest encouragement – although they all might have to wait until next summer to do business. Levy is standing firm and will battle to keep his star even after the 24-year-old’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, moved the saga up a gear by telling a Spanish TV show that he and Bale were “honoured” by Real’s interest.
Pellegrini set for City
Pellegrini admits: ‘Man City have offered me a great job, I hope it becomes official’ (Joe Ridge, Daily Mail) Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that he is on the brink of becoming Manchester City’s new manager. The Chilean has been the City’s No 1 target ever since it became apparent that time was running out for former boss Roberto Mancini. And the departing Malaga coach revealed he has a verbal agreement to take over at City in an interview with Spanish radio station Onda Cero on Wednesday. Pellegrini wasn’t the only La Liga manager on the verge of a move to England with reports on Wednesday night suggesting that Jose Mourinho will soon complete his return to Chelsea.
City & United want Cesc
City and United to battle it out for Fabregas with Barca ready to let ex-Arsenal star leave (Joh Edwards, Daily Mail) Manchester United and Manchester City are competing to bring Cesc Fabregas back to the Barclays Premier League next season. New United manager David Moyes is considering a bid for the £25million-rated midfielder after being made aware of Barcelona’s willingness to sell the former Arsenal skipper. But in an intriguing sub-plot, City have been notified of the Spain midfielder’s availability, and are also interested.
Atletico Madrid chase Benteke
’Let us have him (Geoff Sweet, Sun) Christian Benteke is being targeted by Atletico Madrid as a £17.5million replacement for Radamel Falcao. The Belgian striker, 22, has been offered a bumper new deal at Aston Villa after scoring 23 goals in an impressive debut season. But Spaniards Atletico — who have just sold Colombian ace Falcao to Monaco for £50m — are pinning their hopes on Benteke’s desire to play in La Liga and the Champions League. On Friday SunSport revealed Benteke had put Europe’s big guns on alert after warning Villa they could not make him stay for the remaining three years of his deal. Benteke said: “If Aston Villa say I must stay, I won’t necessarily accept that. I do not want to feel I didn’t get the most out of my career. “There’s no point getting into a tug-of-war with Villa. If the chance comes for me to join a club like Arsenal, I’m convinced we can reach a compromise where everyone comes out a winner.” Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs are also interested in the former Genk hitman, who cost Villa £7m in August.
Everton open talks with Roberto Martinez
Everton open talks with Roberto Martínez but others are on ‘the list’ (Andy Hunter, Guardian) Bill Kenwright has opened talks with Roberto Martínez on the managerial position at Everton but claimed there is no favourite to replace David Moyes. The Everton chairman met the Wigan Athletic manager in London on Wednesday after Martínez cleared the way for a move to Goodison Park by informing Dave Whelan, his chairman at the DW Stadium, that he wishes to end his four-year reign. Martínez did not go that far when approached by Aston Villa in 2011 or Liverpool in 2012 but Kenwright, who registered his interest late last week, insists a decision has not been taken on Moyes’s successor.
England 1 – RoI 1
The whole crowd may have applauded him, but this was an honour Cole never deserved (Neil Ashton, Daily Mail) The idea that professional footballers are role models — a point emphatically made in the Football Association’s judgment into Luis Suarez’s infamous bite on Branislav Ivanovic — was conveniently ignored by the decision to honour Cole in such a way on Wednesday night. All that counted was somehow shoe-horning Cole into the skipper’s armband on the night he received his golden cap at Wembley to mark 100 England appearances. It’s ridiculous that it has come to this, diluting the role of skipper to honour a centurion. A golden cap, presented in a glass cabinet the size of a fish tank before the game, is not enough, it seems. Now the recipient has to receive the captaincy, too.
Roy Hodgson left to ponder on striking lack of foil for Wayne Rooney (Barney Ronay, Guardian) Roy Hodgson will no doubt have learnt a few valuable things from this match which, for all its meandering lack of craft, remained a high-intensity affair – as meaningless close-season friendlies go – deep into the second half. In one area though, England are still struggling to find any answers. Where have all the strikers gone? With Wayne Rooney producing another mixed contribution, Hodgson is no closer to finding a convincing partner for England’s seasoned schemer after a night on which Daniel Sturridge twinkled briefly, and England again looked vague and heavy-legged in attack. For all its lowly status as an appetiser for England’s Brazilian away-day on Sunday, there was as ever a sense of a jiggling of the pieces to be enacted at Wembley, of opportunities for those on the edge of what always feels these days a little like an England squad contrived on the hoof.
Who are you kidding, Roy? (Steven Howard, Sun) We all know Roy Hodgson is no fool. Don’t we? So why then does he persist in treating the rest of us like idiots? When you heard his verdict on England’s latest dismal offering at Wembley, you felt like reaching for the service revolver. And shooting yourself. For those who missed it, the England boss said: “I was really quite pleased with the whole performance. I thought we were on our way to a deserved victory.” As someone once said: You cannot be serious. Sure, we all know he doesn’t want to be seen to be criticising his players in public but surely he can attempt to get a bit nearer the truth than he did last night?