Tired of trawling through the world’s trash? Here’s a look at the most interesting (and mostly true) football stories for today.
Main Football News
We kick the last month of the Premiership off with two key matches in Arsenal v Bolton and Sheffield United vs West Ham, plus the two FA Cup semi finals.
1. FA Cup Semis
2. Hiddink shoots down Chelsea rumour
While talking to BBC’s Football Focus, Hiddink denied that he was in the running to replace Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.
“It’s not an issue, I work with a lot of satisfaction where I am now.
I still have a year on my contract with Russia. I hope we qualify for Euro 2008 and that I can go on with Russia.
I am linked with the job because Roman Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea and he is Russian and I am the Russia coach.
Let’s be frank and open, every now and then I do talk to him – but not about the Chelsea job.
Chelsea are doing really well in the Champions League and it’s not an issue for me, nor is it for them.”
Will this bring about some sense to the madness? Probably not…
As Hiddink points out, Russia’s Euro 2008 qualification takes precedence and at the very least Hiddink isn’t going anywhere till the end of Euro 2008.
3. Mourinho bans agent from talking to other clubs
Jose Mourinho says that he has banned Jorge Mendes from contacting other clubs because he wants to stay at Stamford Bridge.
“What I have said 20 times at least is that I want to be here and I can no do more than that.
I am not a liar. I am honest. I want to honour my contract, I want to be here, I love the club, and I love English football. I can do no more that.
I have forbidden my agent to speak with other clubs, I don’t want my name to be linked with other jobs.”
I have two questions – one, was this before or after Mendes met Real Madrid’s Baldini (if they did actually meet), and two, can Mendes really be stopped from contacting other clubs when he has other clients as well?
“If the players love the manager it is not nice for them and if you compare that with the other clubs, there is a big difference.
In Chelsea every day it is ‘Mourinho stays or Mourinho goes’, ‘Lampard signs or doesn’t sign’, John Terry ‘goes or stays’. So you live in a different atmosphere.”
With Ronaldo signing a new contract, Mourinho’s story is now the biggest source of news for the English media, so it will keep getting worse. Mourinho is strong enough to not be pressured by this sort of attention, but it is damaging to the club.
4. Sheffield United vs West Ham & Arsenal vs Bolton
The two big Premiership games that could decide who qualifies for 4th place and who clambers out of the relegation zone will be played today.
While I’ve already written about Arsenal vs Bolton, the Sheffield United – West Ham clash deserves a special mention as well. A few weeks ago Sheffield United were somewhat clear of the relegation zone and West Ham were condemned to the drop.
Now, West Ham are two points and 1 place behind Sheffield United on 19th, and a win would lift West Ham to 18th. If Charlton are beaten by Everton, it’s mathematically possible that West Ham could ven be 17th because of goal difference by Sunday evening.
Also read: Neil Warnock comments on West Ham and the relegation race.
5. Wenger: Arsenal don’t need Champions League
Have Arsenal actually planned a finish outside the top 4 in their budget? It would be interesting to see where Arsenal stand in terms of yearly revenue, interest payments and operational expenses.
Not playing in the Champions League will severely impact Arsenal’s ability to play in the transfer market – they will still attract top talent but won’t have the financial muscle to play with. If Arsenal are 5th by May 13th, will Ribery actually come to Arsenal when his main goal is Champions League football and he is slated to leave Marseille if they don’t qualify for it?
It’s all speculation though. Today Arsenal are still favorites to beat Bolton and extend their lead in 4th spot.
If they lose though, it will be open season.
“We can always adapt in terms of our revenue. We have done it before and we can do it again, so there is no reason to worry about that. All I am focused on is the Bolton game. What happens consequently does not concern me. We have never gone bust as a club and we always adjust to what we face.
The major target is always sporting, not financial, and the most important thing is that we have a good football team. This is a big game because it’s against a direct rival and the Champions League is the minimum target for every season because we always want to achieve more but we want to have the chance to win the European Cup next season.”
6. Roberto Carlos criticises Real Madrid for their treatment of David Beckham
Roberto Carlos, talking to the Associated Press (who felt necessary to give his full name, background and what not in case people have forgotten who RC is), had a lot to say about Real Madrid.
“They have used David a great deal, to a point where David sold more shirts than played soccer. I don’t like it when my friends get used. Slowly this activity has undermined and tired us.
In my opinion, he is among the five or six best players in the world and the best free kick taker. For me, David Beckham will always be a legend … everything David represents for soccer, as an example to children, is reserved for very few people.”
It is as much as we expected, but it’s good to see players speaking about Real Madrid, even if it is in less than glowing terms. Why? Because even if RC is wrong there’s a need for players to talk more about their clubs and to discuss those sides of football that we as fans are not exposed to.
“When one talks about six coaches in four seasons something’s wrong, something bad’s going on.
We know there are things external to the club that don’t concern us, but they have been very harmful to us. The Galacticos story, the business of this being the richest club in the world, the best club of the 20th century and so on was very difficult for the players to take.”
Other News Headlines
- Paul Doyle talks to Reading chairman John Madesjki
- Alex Ferguson has one more reason to gloat this season after signing Ronaldo on a new contract.
- Are the LA Galaxy moving for Zidane?
- And while we’re at it, how long before Enzo Zidane – junior Zizou – has irrational amounts of money thrown his way?
- Louise Taylor profiles Mark Hughes as a preview to Sunday’s FA Cup semi final between Blackburn and Chelsea.
- Harry Redknapp can afford to look down at Newcastle and criticise Glenn Roeder. To be fair, he’s not the only one.
- Roman Abramovich, with his self-imposed media silence, has rapidly turned into the bad guy with the only two things saving him being his huge financial investments in Chelsea FC and the fact that Jose Mourinho is disliked by a large section of the mainstream media.
However, Mourinho, with his public (and repeated) confirmations of his desire to stay at Chelsea, is officially the good guy and public favourite in the Chelsea manager hunt. Not that it matters when you have enough to buy several new clubs…
- David Bentley interview in the Times. Fantastic stuff, wish I could do these pieces 🙂
- And while we’re at it, the Independent has a one-on-one with Matt Derbyshire.
- And Neil Warnock pens a piece for the Independent.
- Hargreaves move from Bayern to United inches closer.
- There’s an interesting story developing that sees Arsenal and the Belarus FA at odds over payment for Hleb’s transfer. Long story short – Arsenal say they haven’t been contacted, the former club says that Arsenal won’t reply. Cue crazy conspiracy theories…
- Will Arsenal borrow to pay for players next season?