The FA are charged with racism while Liverpool look to replace Rafa with the Special One

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “They’re white and male at the top of the [FA] pyramid but there are lots of people from all backgrounds playing football. It’s about how we get through the mechanism and having enough people rise up through the institutions. I nearly resigned from the council last week. In terms of where we make the shift and get senior management and board to recognise it, we’re talking about institutional exclusion. If they don’t break the mould nothing will change. The decisions at the top level are taken by those who are powerful so there is no will for reform. I think there are big vested interests who’d resist change on the FA board. For them it is about maintaining the status quo.” – FA member Lord Herman Ouseley.

Runner-up: “At the moment we would not be intelligent to be looking right to the top of the league. Now we have to make sure we put a run of wins together and don’t lose more points. Chelsea and Aston Villa [in third and fourth] will drop points, of that I am sure, and that is why we need to be ready to capitalise at the right time. We need to be sure that we take the chances we will get because it is really important for next season.” – Cesc Fabregas.

Today’s overview: As we head into the weekend the rumour mill is working overtime as several juicy stories are spilled over the backpages. Questions of racism are today levelled at the FA, while Chelsea and Liverpool are being reported as making significant efforts to secure the respective manager situations.

The lead story this Friday in the Guardian centre on claims of institutional racism against the FA, Matt Scott sourcing the latest controversy. “Lord Ouseley, former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, was appalled at the failure of a nominations committee of senior FA figures to consider Heather Rabbatts as a serious candidate for the chief executive’s position filled last week. The Jamaica-born Rabbatts, who is of mixed race, was on a list of 12 applicants but was not accorded even a preliminary interview after failing to make the cut from 12 to six.”

The Daily Mail deliver an EXCLUSIVE, Neil Ashton writing “Chelsea are closer to naming Guus Hiddink as their permanent manager after it emerged Dick Advocaat is being lined up to succeed him as coach of Russia.” While over in the Daily Express, Graham Read headlines that “Harry Redknapp wants to become so successful with Spurs that it will propel him towards his ultimate ambition – to become England manager.”

Could Liverpool snare Jose Mourinho? The Sun’s Phil Thomas is found peddling this rumour claiming “the club’s American owners were so wary of being left without an alternative if the Spaniard quit, they targeted Mourinho as a possible replacement.” Further fuel is added to this story by David Maddock in the Mirror who adds that the Special One “is top of an Anfield shortlist in case Benitez’s dispute with the club leads to him walking out… [while Frank Rijkaard, AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti and former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson are also being checked out.”

On the much maligned UEFA Cup, Tim RIch points out that “it says something for the Uefa Cup that by the time this unloved and unwieldy competition reached the last 32, Manchester City were the only English club who wanted to stay in.”

Kevin McCarra contrasts the fact that while only Manchester United seem capable of winning the Premier League, all the Big Four believe they can walk away with this season’s Champions League trophy. Oliver Kay follows in kind saying “in terms of performance, there has been nothing to discourage hopes of another rewarding season for the Premier League clubs.”

For James Lawton, only one team can halt the English in this season’s Champions League. “Barcelona, despite their current waverings, may yet clear the chasm on the sheer brilliance of their most inventive football but, for the moment at least, the odds have to be heavily stacked on a repeat of an all-English Champions League final.”

And the analysis from the Champions League continues. Amy Lawrence looks at the elder statesman still playing in the competition to form her “very classy thirtysomethings XI.” And Sid Lowe reports on the Spanish reaction to Liverpool’s victory in Madrid writing that while the local media were unimpressed by Real Madrid they were equally unenamoured by Rafa Benitez’s boring tactics.

It was left for Andy Townsend to offer the most contrived analysis of the week’s Champions League football as he farted, cliched to-the-max, that “there is no doubt Rafa is up against it, his back is against the wall, but I think it is a mark of the man and his character that he can produce a result in extreme circumstances.”

Touching on the return to form of Didier Drogba, Matt Hughes offers Chelsea some advise over the Ivorian’s next contract offer. “A sensible business decision would be to allow him to run his contract down in the hope of being awarded an extension – or leaving on a free transfer – the next year. Given that he often appears to play when he wants, a performance-related scenario should suit Drogba perfectly.” Keeping with Chelsea, Matt Hughes offers a supplementary article in which he notes how Guus Hiddink “has ordered his players to wear club suits when they report for duty, travel to the stadium for both home and away games and leave the ground afterwards. Hiddink, who wears a suit on the touchline, has also instituted fines for anyone who is late for training.”

Their is some positive news for Arsenal this Friday with regard to their financial status. Matt Scott reveals that “an unnamed property developer has committed to the purchase of more than 100 flats at the site of the club’s old stadium” while the Gunners’ half-year accounts revealed “pre-tax profits had risen to £24.5m after making £44.4m from match-days.”

Gregory’s guys have become, if not extinct, an endangered species as the search for success, the dash for the cash, has taken on an increasingly continental flavour.”

Sepp Blatter’s 6+5 rule is not contrary to EU law, with Martyn Ziegler noting “the key point is that under the 6+5 proposals, each club must field at least six players eligible for the national team in the starting XI, but there is no limit on substitutes being foreign, or on numbers of foreigners in a squad.”

In other football news, Sandy Macaskill reports on how fees for Football League agents have dropped by 30%, Everton are again linked with a 10million summer move for Sporting Lisbon’s Joao Moutinho in the Mirror, and John Cross claims that “Arsene Wenger is trailing Valencia defender Raul Albiol, 23, as he looks to launch a major shake-up of his defence this summer.”