A busy summer awaits
There appears to be a new trend in football gossip reporting. With managerial uncertainty rife among the Premier League’s elite sides, the British press could have faced a conundrum: they don’t know who the new manager will be, and therefore are unlikely to know his transfer targets.
But do not fear. Within 24 hours of the announcement that Pep Guardiola would take over as Manchester City boss in the summer, The Sun revealed the six players he would target. Impressive.
And with Jose Mourinho the odds-on favourite to replace Louis van Gaal at Manchester United, Thursday is rife with EXCLUSIVES as to who the Portuguese will sign. He hasn’t even been appointed yet, but he’s been kind enough to let people know who he will sign. What a benevolent man.
* The Daily Mail‘s Neil Ashton claims an EXCLUSIVE on the news that Mourinho will sell Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini. He’s already sold Mata once, and Marouane Fellaini is Marouane Fellaini, so it’s at least logical.
* The Sun‘s Sam Morgan reports that Mourinho wants to make Real Madrid centre-half Raphael Varane his first signing as manager.
* Darren Lewis and David Anderson of the Daily Mirror team up to provide us with the news that Mourinho wants to appoint Atletico Madrid sporting director Andrea Berta.
* Richard Tanner of the Daily Express reports that Mourinho will target Neymar, Gareth Bale, Ross Barkley, Jamie (?) Rodriguez, Renato Sanches and Aymeric Laporte.
* The Daily Star‘s Jeremy Cross claims an EXCLUSIVE on the news that Mourinho will target Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Thomas Muller, Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos. Is that all? Oh, and United have ‘promised Mourinho a war chest of up to £300m’ for the summer. So United are spending anything from 1p to £299.99m? Thank you for the breaking news.
So that’s Mourinho signing 12 players: Varane, Neymar, Bale, Barkley, Jamie (?) Rodriguez, Sanches, Laporte, Cavani, Muller, Pogba, Ronaldo and Ramos. Oh, and selling Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini. And appointing a sporting director.
When will he find the time to actually sign his contract?
No way, Jose
‘Jose Mourinho still awaits the call that will confirm him as new Manchester United boss,’ writes Martin Blackburn in The Sun.
‘The job he has long awaited is now even more important for the Portuguese as it will give him the chance to hit Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich where it hurts.
‘A role the Special One believes he is perfect for. But the idea of Mourinho taking charge of a United dressing room which remains tribally loyal to Ryan Giggs is causing internal problems. And not just among a number of the players, but some in the boardroom too.’
They will presumably be joined by some in The Sun’s offices. After Blackburn describes Mourinho as the ‘boss-in-waiting’ on Thursday, Monday’s Neil Custis exclusive of United leaning towards Maurico Pochettino looks rather precarious.
As an aside, Jamie Jackson of The Guardian reports that United’s ‘boss-in-waiting’ Mourinho ‘may look outside the Premier League for his next job having not yet been contacted by United’. Oh for fuc…
‘Former Chelsea boss Mourinho will earn £15.5million a year – topping the £15m a year that Manchester City have agreed with Pep Guardiola’ – Richard Tanner, Daily Express.
‘Reports in Spain claim United will offer the former Chelsea boss a deal worth £15.5m a season over three years…overtaking Guardiola’s future pay packet at the Etihad’ – Jeremy Cross, Daily Star.
‘Jose Mourinho is set to land a three-year, £15million-a-year deal to replace Louis van Gaal at Manchester United. The package awaiting the former Chelsea boss will put him on a par with Pep Guardiola’ – Darren Lewis and David Anderson, Daily Mirror.
All that’s left is for someone to report that he’s earning less than Guardiola and all bases are covered.
‘JOSE MOURINHO will pocket £15million-a-season if he joins Manchester United in the summer — £6m LESS than rival’s City are giving Pep Guardiola’ – The Sun.
That didn’t take long.
It’s Thursday, and Harry Redknapp is busy being Harry Redknapp. After tipping John Terry to move to Arsenal last week, everybody’s favourite pundit is firing up his England’s lion hype machine once more.
“If I had been at Man City, I’d have got on the phone on deadline day and tried to take him now,” the erstwhile manager told BT Sport, reaching peak levels of ‘Arry. “I’d have said, ‘If you ain’t giving him another contract, we’ll take him’.”
And Chelsea would presumably have replied with two words, rhyming with ‘duck cough’. Terry himself would hardly relish the opportunity to leave Chelsea – the club at which he has spent the past 21 years, and remains captain – on the final day of the transfer window in mid-season for a perceived rival.
“He could have won the league for Man City,” adds Redknapp. “They wouldn’t have got smashed up like they did by Leicester. He’d have marked Robert Huth better from set plays than whoever did on Saturday.”
Two things: First, that’s a ‘BT Sport expert’ saying that Terry would have marked Robert Huth better “than whoever did on Saturday”. Poor Martin Demichelis.
Second: How would Redknapp describe Terry’s performance against Leicester earlier this season? He was subbed off after 53 minutes with his side 2-0 down, the 35-year-old having made one tackle. Was he all “smashed up”?
By hook or by Crooks
Thursday means no teams of the week from Garth Crooks and Harry Redknapp, but The Guardian look to plug that particular gap by asking eight of their writers to name their combined XI from Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester City and Tottenham.
* David Hytner is asking plenty of Dele Alli in a 4-3-3 formation as a central midfielder flanked by Riyad Mahrez and Mesut Ozil.
* Jamie Jackson hands those duties to Danny Drinkwater in a three-man midfield, with Mahrez and Kevin de Bruyne on either side.
* Paul Wilson goes rogue and just picks an eleven comprised of Leicester players. Strangely, he opts to select them in a 4-2-3-1 formation, as opposed to their favoured 4-4-2.
The Daily Express‘s list of ten ‘unlikely Premier League winners’ looks awfully familiar. In fact, replace Mateja Kezman with Luis Boa Morte, and it might look exactly the same as this.
Let’s head to The Metro for some headlines, shall we?
* ‘Here’s why Chelsea have the power to decide who wins the league and who is relegation this season’
Yes, ‘who is relegation this season’. Their words, not ours.
Anyway, Chelsea play Manchester City, Bournemouth, Spurs, Sunderland and Leicester in their final five games. So they ‘decide’ who wins the league and who is relegated. Sorry, ‘relegation’.
* ‘Game changers! Rosicky reveals Arsenal’s secret weapon to win the Premier League’
Thank you to Tomas Rosicky for ‘revealing’ Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez exist.
* ‘Revealed: Tottenham are officially the dirtiest team in the Premier League’
‘Revealed’ is certainly catchier than ‘checked the stats’. Spurs have made the most fouls in the Premier League this season, one more than Manchester United.
‘Manchester United suffer blow as World Cup winner signs new two-year contract,’ reads the headline on the Daily Express website.
News that Laurent Blanc has extended his contract at Paris Saint-Germain will certainly come as a ‘blow’ to United. This is a manager who was longer odds to take over as next manager from Louis van Gaal than Jose Mourinho, Ryan Giggs, Mauricio Pochettino, Diego Simeone, Fabio Capello, Mark Hughes and Gary Neville.
Non-sequitur of the day
Writes Matt Barlow in the Daily Mail: ‘In a stadium named after a company who claim to be the market leaders in GPS tracking, West Bromwich Albion hit congestion in this FA Cup fourth-round replay.’
Recommended reading of the day
Iain Macintosh on the 1974/75 season.
Seb Stafford-Bloor on the Ryan Giggs myth.
The Daily Telegraph team up to bring us football rules that drive us mad.