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Who will the next Chelsea manager be?

Abramovich continues search for the right man

With Rafael Benitez confirming last week that he would not be at Chelsea past the end of the season, the hunt is on once again to find a manager that can bring Roman Abramovich the success and style of football that he craves. Here we look at the main contenders for the job and a few of the outsiders.

Jose Mourinho

Undoubtedly the fans’ favourite for the job. The self-proclaimed special one is having a tough time in Madrid with his team currently 13 points behind Barcelona in La Liga.  Recent victories over Barcelona in league and cup, plus continued progression in the Champions League, means that the pressure has relented a little.  It is clear though that Mourinho does not have a good relationship with the Madrid board and his constant quotes that his next job will be in England shows that the time may be right for a return.

Jose Mourinho

The only question is whether Chelsea will be his destination. With Roberto Mancini’s position at Manchester City looking increasingly unstable, it may need Abramovich’s personal intervention to stop Mourinho being lured by Sheikh Mansour’s billions.

Fabio Capello

Rumours have already begun that Capello is disillusioned with life as Russia manager. Having spent a number of years now as an international manager,  the Italian may well be looking for one last challenge as a club manager before retirement. Abramovich has shown interest in appointing Capello in the past and with his close ties to the Russian national team he may well find it easy to negotiate a way out of the coach’s contract.

The only drawback would be the negative fans reaction as Capello’s time in charge of England is mostly remembered for the disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign. Abramovich has shown though he does not take much notice of the fans view with the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo and the subsequent appointment of Benitez.

Guus Hiddink

A favourite of the Chelsea board and the fans, Hiddink would be a popular choice. A successful short stint as Chelsea boss in 2009 culminated in an FA Cup victory, a runners-up spot in the Premiership and being seconds away from the Champions League final.

A close friend and advisor to Abramovich makes Hiddink one of the outstanding candidates for the role. Despite the fact that the Dutchman has announced his retirement at the end of this season once his contract with Anzhi Makhachkala ends, a plea from his good friend may be enough to persuade him.

David Moyes

Currently third favourite with a few bookmakers, will the Everton manager finally get his reward for the outstanding job he has done at Goodison Park? At Everton he has built a team which is solid at the back and one that attacks with pace and variation. He has done this on a limited budget and has a good track record with signings as shown by the likes of Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar, Phil Jagielka and Tim Howard.

David Moyes

With the vast resources on offer at Stamford Bridge he should be able to unearth even more talent. The only question mark over this appointment would be the apparent reluctance of Abramovich to appoint a British manager and whether Moyes is a big enough name for him.

The Outsiders

There are also a number of other candidates that may come into the reckoning. Gus Poyet and Gianfranco Zola would also be popular choices among the fans for obvious reasons. Both have proved their worth in the Championship this season with Brighton and Watford as two of the most attractive passing teams to watch and both may be celebrating promotion to the Premiership come May.

Michael Laudrup has certainly come into the frame since Swansea’s first major cup triumph a couple of weeks ago. Their possession football would certainly appeal to Abramovich, who craves to watch his team play like Barcelona, and his ability in the transfer market is unquestionable with the signings of Michu, Pablo Hernandez and Jonathan De Guzman prime examples.

Jurgen Klopp may also be under consideration after his stunning performance with Dortmund in the last few years. Despite his constant reassurance to Dortmund supporters that he is not going anywhere, the imminent sale of star striker Robert Lewandowski and undoubted interest in the likes of Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels may make him re-think his position if the board do not back him.

By Chris Newman

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Manchester City, Newcastle and the biggest Premier League winners of 2011-12

A fantastic last day of the season capped off one of the most memorable Premier League seasons in the recent memory. 2011/12 has had it all; a topsy-turvy title race that literally went down to the wire, a bitter battle for the top four, heroics in the Champions League and a breathtaking relegation battle. Now that the dust has settled, here are Ninety Minutes Online’s top five winners of 2011/12.

Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City mindgames

An incredible title race has been consisted of champions and perennial favourites Manchester United being confronted by cross-town rivals Manchester City, with the noisy neighbours claiming victory on a captivating last day. The Etihad Stadium outfit looks almost unstoppable at the start of the season, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s men struggling to keep up at times, before the Red Devils recaptured the advantage and found themselves eight points clear at the summit. After a derby victory for City, the battle went down to the last day, with two goals in stoppage time by Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero against QPR unbelievably giving the Citizens their first top-flight title since 1968.

Ferguson is usually the king of managerial mindgames, but on this occasion the imperious Italian has seemingly got into the United players’ thoughts, and City provide worthy winners of the 2011/12 Premier League.

Alan Pardew and his Newcastle team

Despite missing out on the top four with a last-day defeat by Everton, Newcastle have been exceptional under Alan Pardew this season, and have defied the odds to be in the race for Champions League qualification. The likes of Cheik Tiote, Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye have proved to be astute signings, whilst the January acquisition of Papiss Cisse has resulted in a new number nine hero for the Tyneside club.

Pardew and his side must be given credit for finishing above the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool this season and providing some exceptional football at times.

Newly-promoted sides

Norwich, Swansea and QPR faced an uphill battle to stay in the Premier League this season, and many prophesised a speedy return to the Championship for the trio. However, all three sides have proved that they are good enough to cut it in the top-tier, and will look to push on next term. Swansea have been one of the teams of the season, and an 11th place finish, with a stylish brand of football to boot, is an exceptional achievement. Norwich, led by talisman Grant Holt, were not far behind in 12th and also claimed some scalps this term.

Meanwhile, although QPR escaped the drop on the last day, the Loftus Road club have beaten Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool to show their worth. All three will provide motivation to Southampton, Reading and either West Ham or Blackpool for next season.

Roy Hodgson

With Fabio Capello’s decision to walk away from the England manager’s post, a media frenzy has brewed over who the man to lead the Three Lions to Euro 2012 would be. With Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp the frontrunner and favourite, the press had us believing that it would be a matter of when and not if the White Hart Lane supremo took charge.

However, Roy Hodgson’s excellent achievement of lifting West Brom to 10th in the table has been recognised, and the Hawthorns man will now lead England to Ukraine and Poland.

Football

Football has been a massive winner this term, as the 2011/12 Premier League season has been the most competitive, spell-bounding and enthralling campaign for many a year. Whether it was the race for the title, five teams slugging it out to stay in the division, the heroics of the new boys or the quality of the sides in the top six, 2011/12 will take some beating next season.

Honourable Mentions

  • Roberto Di Matteo – The Italian has completely rejuvenated Chelsea since taking over from Andre Villas Boas, and after winning the FA Cup is 90 minutes away from lifting the Champions League crown.
  • Paul Scholes – The ageing veteran came out of retirement to show that he still has what it takes to compete at the top level despite his age. Rumours are circulating that Roy Hodgson will take Scholes to Euro 2012.
  • Arsene Wenger – Many had lost faith in the French manager at the start of the campaign when the Gunners lost four of their first seven games, but Wenger has led the club to a third-placed finish despite the criticism.
  • The FA Cup – With the emergence of the Champions League, over recent seasons the FA Cup has had to take a back seat, but some enthralling games between the nation’s best teams have been a joy to watch this season.
  • David Moyes – The Scottish coach continues to overachieve despite a shoestring transfer budget at Goodison Park, and leading the Toffees to seventh place is an excellent return.

Published – Soccerlens

The John Terry controversies – a complete list

John Terry on his day is one of the best central defenders in the Premier League, and certainly an important player for Chelsea and England.

However, the 31-year-old is in danger of missing out on Euro 2012, after being stripped of his nation’s captaincy due to the ongoing allegations of racism against the Barking-born man. This, for sure, is not the first controversy to blight Terry’s career, as the following rap sheet shows.

  • Fined two weeks wages for drunkenly mocking American tourists in Heathrow Airport in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
  • Charged with assault and affray after a confrontation with a nightclub bouncer in January 2002, Terry was suspended from England duty and subsequently missed out on the 2002 World Cup. He was later cleared of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, unlawful wounding, possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon and affray.
  • In February 2002 Terry was caught on CCTV urinating into a beer glass and dropping it on the floor of an Essex nightclub.
  • Fined £60 for parking his Bentley in a disabled bay.
  • In 2004, Terry was reported to have gambled up to £40,000 a week on horse and dog racing with Wayne Bridge and Scott Parker.
  • Sent off against Tottenham in November 2006 at White Hart Lane, and accused of racially abusing Ledley King. Questioned the integrity of referee Graham Poll, and was later fined £10,000 for inappropriate conduct.
  • Before marrying Toni Poole in 2007, admitted to cheating on his partner up to eight times. Jenny Barker, 17, claims that Terry cheated on Poole with her in a public car park.
  • Investigated by Chelsea and the FA for reportedly accepting a £10,000 bribe to show a reporter around the London club’s training ground without permission in 2009.
  • In 2009 the centre back’s father Ted Terry was filmed allegedly selling cocaine to an undercover reporter, months after his mother, Sue, and mother-in-law had been cautioned for shoplifting.
  • In January 2010 Terry was alleged to have had a four-month affair with Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend Vanessa Perroncel. Bridge was deemed as one of Terry’s best friends, and Perroncel was the mother of the left back’s child. Fabio Capello stripped Terry of the England captaincy due to the scandal, handing it to Rio Ferdinand.
  • Accused of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in a 1-0 defeat for Chelsea at Loftus Road in October 2011. Investigated by the FA and police, Terry will stand trial in July 2012. Stripped of his country’s captaincy for the second time.

Terry may well look back at the above list with shame and regret once his playing days are over, as the constant controversies in his life have taken away from his ability on the pitch.

With England producing some exciting young defenders in recent times, Euro 2012 could be Terry’s last swansong at a major international tournament, but his involvement is now not assured due to his July court date.

Published – Soccerlens

England vs Bulgaria: Three Points A Must For Fabio Capello’s Men

England continue their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign this week with fixtures against Bulgaria and Wales promising to give the fans a better idea of the nation’s chances of competing in Poland and Ukraine next year. With Fabio Capello’s men locked at the top of Group G on 11 points with Montenegro and an away day in Podgorica still to come, the Three Lions can ill-afford many more slip-ups.

The Italian coach has selected a number of promising youngsters in his squad for the match in Sofia, and it will be interesting to see whether the likes of Manchester United pairing Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley are trusted to start the match. Chris Smalling has impressed the former Real Madrid coach thus far this term, and should also pick up his international debut at right back. With no Rio Ferdinand to call upon, it will be a toss up between Jones, Lescott and Cahill to who partners skipper John Terry in the heart of the English rearguard.

In attack Wayne Rooney will harbour the responsibility of getting the goals to win the match, and the United striker has started the season in blistering form, with a hat-trick against Arsenal last Sunday ensuring the 25-year-old goes into the game full of confidence. Darren Bent is an injury concern so Andy Carroll may accompany the former Everton man up front.

Bulgaria were put to the sword at Wembley in the return fixture back in September 2010, with Jermain Defoe scoring three in a comfortable 4-0 win. The away match will be no walk in the park however, as the luxury and familiarity of Wembley will be traded in for the hostility of the Stadion Vasil Levski.

The home side no longer have all-time top goalscorer Dimitar Berbatov to call upon, who quit the international set-up back in May 2010, but despite this Bulgaria will have some strong players on show come Friday. Stiliyan Petrov will be a familiar face for the away midfield, and the likes of Scott Parker or Gareth Barry will need to get close to the Aston Villa midfielder, who has the ability to shoot from distance or create chances for others. Former Manchester City forward Valeri Bojinov has not been selected in the squad, but Bolton’s Martin Petrov may feature.

The match will be given an extra bite by the fact that the home coach Lothar Matthaus has been vocal in the media this week and will motivate his players to get three points on Friday. The former Germany international got the better of England in his playing days, and will look to replicate this in his managerial tenure, despite the fact that Bulgaria are almost assured of missing out on Euro 2012.

A win would go far to alleviating fears of a do or die game in Montenegro next month, a draw is not ideal but would be acceptable and a loss would put the nation’s chances of competing in the European Championships in jeopardy. Expect a hostile reception from a passionate home faithful, and Bulgaria to come out of the blocks quickly, but if England can weather an early storm they should have the players and the experience to see them home.

Published – http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/opinion/85363/england-vs-bulgaria-three-points-a-must-for-fabio-capellos-men.html

Is the cost of English players forcing Premier League clubs to look abroad?

With the much publicised transfers of Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson being completed by Manchester United and Liverpool respectively in the last week for a combined total of £36.5 million, most Premier League managers will be looking to the continent and beyond for their summer signings. Both England under 21 players have quality and potential in abundance, with that there is no argument, but such extortionate transfer fees will leave the majority of top flight sides financially out of the equation when looking to sign British players, and bring more foreigners to English shores.

The grievance is not with Sunderland or Blackburn, as neither wanted to lose their prodigious talents, both of which have been cultivated and nurtured through the clubs’ youth ranks. It was obvious that both players wanted to go, so why not get as high a fee as possible? The staggering thing is the amount of money it takes, and the big clubs are willing to pay, to buy young English talent. With FIFA eager to bring quotas into the game surrounding the number of home-grown players, and the Premier League being acknowledged as having a style and pace of play that takes time to adjust to, young British players will continue to cost an arm and a leg.

This piece is not a slight against either of the players personally; as a Spurs fan I would have liked to see them at White Hart Lane, especially Jones. But for £16.5 million? The 19 year old has only made 35 appearances in senior football. Henderson’s £20 million buys you a midfielder who has found the net a mere four times in over 70 games. My argument is not that he should score more goals, it is that for £20 million you would expect a player with a more rounded game.

In Europe there are much cheaper alternatives. Newcastle United have just signed Yohan Cabaye from Lille for a fee believed to be around £5million, a player not dissimilar to Henderson. The 25 year old French midfielder is fresh from helping Lille to a league and cup double, playing the majority of the side’s games. He has featured in almost 200 first class matches, and has represented his country on four occasions; the key point however is that he cost a quarter of what Liverpool just splurged on Henderson.

Personally I believe Jones to be the better prospect of the two, but again the transfer fee seems excessive. £16.5million? If Gary Cahill is to leave Bolton in the next months the fee will be similar, whilst Arsenal target and Jones’ centre-half partner at Ewood Park Christopher Samba is reportedly available for £12 million. Lets put this in perspective, as it is not a new pricing trend. Sir Alex Ferguson paid £7 million for the best defender in the league in the form of Nemanja Vidic, but £30 million for Rio Ferdinand. Manchester rivals City signed bench-warmer Joleon Lescott for £22million but paid only £6 million for the first name on their teamsheet, Vincent Kompany. The cost of going home-grown is there for all to see.

I wish both Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson the very best of luck at their new clubs. I believe that both will excel in their new environments, and have the necessary ability to make the step up.  However the fees paid for their services are detrimental to the English game, and it will be to the cost of the national side and Fabio Capello, who will not have as many players to select for international duty due to the continued influx of cheaper foreign alternatives joining Premier League clubs this summer.

Published – http://afootballreport.com/post/6580583976/is-the-cost-of-english-players-forcing-premier-league

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