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Managerial musings: Arsenal’s English bias, Mourinho set for Barcelona, Bilic or Blanc for Liverpool?



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Congratulations to Matthew Upson and David Bentley on their deserved call-ups to Fabio Capello’s England squad. It cannot have been easy to rebuild their confidence after having their dreams of making it at Arsenal crushed by a perceived anti-English bias from the manager.

Arsene Wenger denies that any such preference for foreign talent exists of course, but the statistics are stacking up against him now. Of course, good enough for England is not necessarily good enough for Arsenal, but a quick scan of the current Gunners squad will tell you that both of these Highbury rejects would command first team shirts right now. Your loss Arsene.

Word on the street is that Jose Mourinho’s next job will be in Barcelona with the Catalunyan giants going full steam ahead for the ex-assistant manager and interpreter now that the La Liga title is gone.

Going nine points behind Real Madrid and playing some truly uninspiring football has empowered the Barcelona bigwigs to send an SOS to the Special One’s Setubal doorstep no matter what happens in the Champions League – following a trend set by Real. Their great rivals have booted out the likes of Fabio Capello, Vicente Del Bosque and Fabio Capello (again) in similar circumstances without any great uproar from the fans in the past.

Who is the up-and-coming, flavour-of-the month, European super coach that will be on all the forward-thinking middle of the road Premiership clubs (and Liverpool’s ?) wanted lists this summer ? Step forward Laurent Blanc, the bespectacled ex-Barcelona, Marseille, Inter and Man Utd defender who has taken Bordeaux to within three points of perennial Ligue 1 champions Lyon after seven months in charge at Stade Chaban Delmas.

Blanc has integrated some questionable foreign buys of the previous manager into a workmanlike French outfit that finished sixth last term and turned them into title challengers — oh and he’s got David Bellion scoring as well! Speaking four languages will give him plenty of options when the time comes to leave the proving ground of French football for a bigger playground, but what terrific irony if he crosses swords with Slaven Bilic again some day.

The Croatian will be forever linked to Blanc for the shameful simulation which cost Lolo his place at the 1998 World Cup final. And Bilic is actually going to be the number one managerial target for Premiership clubs this summer once his work with Croatia is done.

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