What a difference a month (and defeat in the FA Cup final) makes
Jose Mourinho, April 24: “We are going to invest the basic to improve our squad. We are going again to touch our squad and believe that more than spend, spend, spend, is probably the evolution of our players.
Daily Mirror, May 21: ‘Manchester United plan £250m overhaul as pressure grows on Jose Mourinho to mount title challenge.’
After a weekend in which Chelsea beat Manchester United in the final of the FA Cup to raise questions over the futures of both managers, Monday’s newspapers lead almost entirely on events from Wembley. The Times go a little rogue, but their claim that Arsenal will appoint Mikel Arteta as their new head coach this week is worthy of bucking the trend.
The Daily Mail do lead on the final, but in their own unique way. ‘ROMAN IN EXILE’ reads their headline, the story being that Chelsea owner Abramovich ‘was unable to attend’ the game due to ‘problems with his UK visa’.
Matt Barlow says that the situation only ‘adds to the mood of uncertainty at Stamford Bridge’, and that ‘there has been no comment from the club’.
The drama does not stop there. Barlow has written a short column on how ‘this visa hitch is a timely reminder of the dangers of a one-man empire at Stamford Bridge’.
‘Since Roman Abramovich appeared at Chelsea and launched the club into another world there have been concerns about an empire built on the wealth of one man,’ he writes. ‘What happened if he got bored with his toy? Or suddenly dropped dead, as Russian oligarchs have been known to do?’
‘Or what if his residential status was compromised by small but important changes to the bureaucratic process in the aftermath of a diplomatic crisis? Then what?’
Then he will continue to own Chelsea from his home in Russia, as he does rather often. As you yourself state a few paragraphs later, ‘there is nothing to stop Abramovich owning Chelsea without a residency visa’.
Panic over? Not for Martin Samuel on the opposite page. In his match report from Wembley, he notes that ‘this was the 15th trophy of the Abramovich era and won’t be the last, visa issues permitting’.
Considering Barlow’s back-page story ends with the clarification that ‘there have been no indications from the Home Office that the visa will be refused’, this all seems a bit much. Mountains and molehills come to mind.
No way, Jose
As for United, it seems as though Mourinho has taken the defeat rather badly. Has he cast fresh doubt over his future? Has he had a pop at Arsene Wenger? Has he blocked Marouane Fellaini on WhatsApp?
No. This calls for considerably more drastic action. And so we head to the Daily Mirror website for the latest.
‘Jose Mourinho ‘deletes’ Instagram after abusive comments as Man United lose FA Cup final against Chelsea’
Wow, this is huge. Mourinho has ‘seemingly deleted his Instagram account after receiving a clutch of abusive comments’. The Sun‘s website weighs in too, saying that the Portuguese ‘has deleted his Instagram account after copping a load of online abuse following yesterday’s FA Cup final defeat’.
The key is in the last few words: this came as a consequence of the FA Cup final defeat, and the criticism that Mourinho was subjected to afterwards. That is stated in no uncertain terms by two well-known outlets.
The only problem? Mourinho deleted his Instagram account on Thursday. Unless he can see into the future, it probably didn’t have anything to do with losing the FA Cup final.
Elsewhere on Instagram…
‘Chelsea midfielder Willian caused a stir among Blues fans by posting a picture of Chelsea’s Cup-winning celebrations on social media – with manager Antonio Conte completely obscured by trophy emojis’ – Daily Mirror.
‘Chelsea substitute Willian aimed a dig at Antonio Conte yesterday by covering him with trophy emojis in his Instagram story’ – Daily Mail.
‘Willian has revealed his rift with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte – by obliterating him from their FA Cup winners’ photo’ – The Sun.
That escalated quickly.
Graeme Souness reckons Liverpool have a chance in the Champions League final on Saturday. Why? Because Cristiano Ronaldo ain’t that good anymore.
“He spends a lot of time on his bum now, complaining he’s been fouled, and plays the width of the box,” says the pundit. “He’s still capable of great things but, like Real, nowhere near where he was even 12 months ago.”
Fun fact: Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more goals (44 to 42) in fewer games (43 to 46) this season compared to last.
Imagine if he was as good as he was 12 months ago..
Jack the lad
Jack Wilshere played his last game this season on May 6. His omission from England’s World Cup squad means he won’t play again competitively for another three months. He is, by any definition, on holiday.
The Sun‘s website are not prepared to let him get off so lightly, however. They have a picture exclusive on Monday, an absolutely massive claim that is likely to rock the entire footballing landscape.
‘Jack Wilshere spotted with group of female friends at 3am days after birth of his daughter’
Going out? Until 3am? With women? The absolute horror.
Not to forget the fact that this has come just ‘days after’ the birth of his daughter. Although, by the first paragraph, that is revised to ‘just weeks after’, so there you go.
But what of the actual controversy here: the fact that Wilshere was seen with ‘female friends’? With women! How much of his wages will Arsenal fine him?
‘The midfielder was seen with the women and a male pal leaving Little Italy in Soho, Central London.’
Ah, so he wasn’t the only person there with a Y chromosome. What a relief.
What follows are five pictures of Wilshere laughing with his friends and getting into a taxi, and two from Instagram of him and his baby daughter. So seven pictures altogether, inserted into an 140-word article.
‘Unai Emery has emerged as a shock last-minute candidate to take over as Arsenal manager. Mikel Arteta, currently assistant to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, has been the favourite to land the job, having been endorsed by the departing Arsene Wenger. But the availability of Spaniard Emery, 46, who left Paris Saint-Germain after leading them to the French league title, has alerted the powers at Arsenal’ – Daily Mail.
Emery announced he would be leaving PSG on April 28. How has it taken Arsenal 25 days to be ‘alerted’ to his ‘availability’?
Recommended reading of the day
Paolo Bandini on Lazio’s implosion.
Rory Smith on the future of the Champions League final.
Alex Shaw on Jose Mourinho.
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