Chelsea’s Ramires & Luiz say Clattenburg racially slurred Mikel. Ref argues he said ‘nothing’ & was told “I’ll f******g break your legs”

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “When I scored against United it was very exciting to look around and see 9,000 people celebrating away from home. Sending Manchester United out was amazing. It was like having sex with Madonna and beating Villa as a manager would be just as good. Better than having sex with Madonna? Let me try it and I will give you an honest answer.” – Paolo Di Canio.

Runner-up: “I think that Phil Neville badly let his manager down. His manager did every paper, every radio station and every TV channel, talking about Luis Suarez. Then his captain, who is meant to be setting an example, blatantly dives. If David Moyes is a real man and a real manager, which I think he is, then he will be speaking to Phil Neville about it.” – Steven Gerrard.

The Evidence: Did Ref Clattenburg Make Racist Remarks?

Revealed: What happened during the minutes of mayhem that led to referee Clattenburg facing racist abuse claims (Neil Ashton, Mail) Mikel responded after team-mates David Luiz and Ramires told him they believed he had been racially abused by the FIFA official moments after he was booked at Stamford Bridge. Now Sportsmail can reveal details of the dialogue that is alleged to have taken place between Mikel and Clattenburg that led to the 76th-minute incident which the Chelsea players claim to have heard. Mikel did not hear the alleged abuse, but Ramires and Luiz are prepared to make statements saying they did… Mikel wanted to know why Torres had been booked for a second time when Chelsea’s players were convinced he had been caught by Jonny Evans on his way through on goal in the 68th minute. When Clattenburg told Mikel to keep quiet and to get on with the game, the Nigeria midfielder continued to protest. It is understood the player used words to the effect of: ‘Why can’t we stand up for ourselves, why can’t we challenge your decisions?’… Clattenburg booked him for dissent in the 76th minute and it is at this moment that Ramires and Luiz allege they heard the midfielder being racially abused by a referee who is known for having a dismissive and patronising tone when he talks to players about their behaviour. Mikel was immediately told about the allegation, but decided to wait until after the game to confront Clattenburg with the claims. Chelsea have also confirmed a separate incident, understood to involve Juan Mata, after claims that Clattenburg called him ‘a Spanish t**t’.

Chelsea stars swear ref did abuse Mikel (Sun) Outraged Chelsea stars have given sworn statements claiming John Obi Mikel WAS racially abused by ref Mark Clattenburg.

Clattenburg: His Defence

‘I’ll break your legs’: Clattenburg vs Chelsea post-game bust-up stunned onlookers (Mirror) Clattenburg is believed to have referred to an ‘extraordinary incident’ in his report of the Blues’ highly-charged loss to Manchester United. It emerged late on Monday that the words “I’m gonna f******g break your legs” were heard during a furious post-match bust-up. They came from inside the referee’s dressing room as Clattenburg and his officials were angrily confronted by Chelsea staff and Mikel, the man the Blues claim was racially abused by the Gosforth official on Sunday. The Mirror understands the scenes became so heated, onlookers described the intervention of security staff as resembling “bouncers at a pub brawl”.

Mark Clattenburg prepared to fight claims as Football Association launches inquiry into Chelsea claims (Telegraph) Clattenburg is said to be adamant that he did nothing wrong and is ready to defend himself against the allegations which, if proved, would clearly be career-threatening. “Mark has said nothing,” said one leading official. “He intends to fight this all the way.”… Clattenburg was photographed leaving his home, near Newcastle, on Monday with Michael Oliver, another referee and there is understood to have been considerable support on Monday from the elite refereeing community.

Clattenburg: The Opinions

Mark Clattenburg and Chelsea row following controversial encounter is messy and must not be allowed to drag on (Henry Winter, Telegraph) If Mark Clattenburg uttered a racist remark to Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel, then his career as a referee died on the pitch as dusk fell at Stamford Bridge on Sunday Oct 28, 2012. If Clattenburg is innocent, as the elite refereeing community gathering at St George’s Park on Monday believe he is, then it is Chelsea who need vigorously calling to account by the FA. “Mark said nothing,’’ insisted a leading official. “Nothing”… Clattenburg had a terrible game at the Bridge but that does not mean he was either dishonest or racist.

Bridge horrors typical of a game diving into the gutter (James Lawton, Independent) Mark Clattenburg may not always have been a model of propriety on his way to becoming England’s second-ranked referee at the age of 37 but it is still hard to believe that he could have been so monumentally careless of his own and what is left of football’s reputation.

Mark Clattenburg affair highlights era of celebrity referees with a secret lust for fame is a recipe for disaster (Paul Hayward, Telegraph) The cult of the celebrity referee tends to be confined to the minds of the referees themselves. Caught up in the whirl of glamour that accompanied the astounding growth in popularity of the Premier League, some refs began to see themselves like Hollywood cops.

I know Clattenburg will be shocked, angry and going over every detail in his head (Graham Poll, Mail) If he is innocent, he will be livid and getting his statement prepared to submit to the FA. He will be thankful that the referee communication system was in place and operating well. It clear that Clattenburg referred to his assistant Mick McDonagh just before the Ivanovic dismissal and he will be relying on the fact that the ‘open mic’ will mean every word will have been heard by both assistants and the fourth official Mike Jones.

Clattenburg bust-up defies belief (Steven Howard, Sun) It defies belief that any referee, especially one of Clattenburg’s standing and experience, might have used the “inappropriate language” — both racial and xenophobic — claimed by Chelsea during Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Stamford Bridge by Manchester United… Yet despite all this, Chelsea have had no compunction whatsoever in taking the action they have. They must be supremely confident in the evidence at their disposal.

Refs should remember: It’s always good to talk (Ian Wright, Sun) I honestly believe right now is the worst time I can remember with officials, because they are under such ridiculous pressure — and the sad thing I can only see it getting worse as well. Oh for those days when you could have a laugh, a bit of a swear and banter with refs.

Mark Clattenburg refereeing row highlights need to follow rugby union’s who store audio tapes from all matches (Telegraph)

‘Arry For Blackburn

Harry heads north for Blackburn interview but Berg and Holloway remain in frame (Mail) Harry Redknapp is set to hold talks over the Blackburn job on Tuesday as he prepares for a return to management… Redknapp faces competition from former Blackburn defender Henning Berg, who was interviewed for the job on Monday, while Blackpool manager Ian Holloway remains in contention.

Rovers plan Harry talks (Sun) Redknapp, 65, is keen to get back into management but the distance from his home on the South Coast could yet prove to be a problem. And it is believed Rovers controversial owners Venky’s would have to dig deep if they are to persuade him to make the move to Lancashire. The possibility of jobs at QPR and Southampton coming up in the near future could also be a potential obstacle for Blackburn.

Maradona for Blackburn?! Argentina legend is the new target to be Rovers manager (Mirror) Blackburn supremo Shebby Singh wants to offer Diego Maradona an astonishing chance to become the club’s new manager.

Injury Watch

Blow for City as crocked Richards faces two months on sidelines after knee surgery (Mail) Micah Richards will be out for six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his injured knee at a Manchester hospital on Monday. The Manchester City defender saw a specialist who recommended immediate surgery to mend a torn knee cartilage.

Gervinho to miss Arsenal’s clash with United after suffering ankle injury (Mail) Arsenal forward Gervinho underwent a scan on Monday to determine the extent of an ankle injury.

Gunners boost as keeper Szczesny resumes training after six weeks out (Mail) Arsenal’s next game is on Tuesday in the League Cup, when Reading visit London, though any decision on Szczesny’s availability will be made on the day of the game.

Ballon D’Or

Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney shortlisted for Ballon d’Or as England’s sole home hope for Fifa award (Telegraph) Wayne Rooney is the solitary Englishman shortlisted for this year’s Fifa Ballon d’Or award – despite his failure to shine at Euro 2012 and inability to guide Manchester United into last season’s Champions League knockout stages.

Wayne Rooney the only Englishman in the running for Fifa Ballon D’Or, while no current Chelsea players included on shortlist (Independent) It wouldn’t matter if there were 100 Englishmen on the shortlist for the Fifa Ballon D’Or – none of them will beat Lionel Messi to the award… There is an argument for Cristiano Ronaldo ending Messi’s run of three straight Ballon D’Ors. He won more last season – including the La Liga title with Real Madrid. And he came close to matching Messi’s genius with a ridiculous number of goals himself. But that’s the problem – he came close, just as it seems he will with the Fifa Ballon D’Or honour.

Manchester City trio named on Fifa longlist for the 2012 Ballon d’Or (Guardian)

Transfer Lies

Sven up for a Pool party (Sun) Sven Goran Eriksson s being linked with a shock return to English football — at League One basement boys Hartlepool.

Forren Currency (Sun) Manchester United are keeping tabs on Vegard Forren who plays for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Molde.