Jose Mourinho: The Special One’s arrogant unrest becoming a tiresome sideshow

It was a quiet week for domestic football as the World Cup qualifiers took centre stage and Jose Mourinho took advantage of his week off to return to Chelsea, where he took in Russia vs Brazil at Stamford Bridge. The next day, in an interview with Sky Sports News full with a backdrop of the humdrum London weather, he reiterated his well-known desire to return to England, even hinting that he could indeed return to Chelsea as soon as this summer.

The lull of the international break was soon disturbed as speculation over Mourinho’s future became rife as he covered the fact he still owns a property in the capital and how his daughter will start at Camberwell Art College in the next academic year. The Portuguese coach has previously made no secret of his desire to return to the Premier League and his affection to London, “we love it here” he said, has sparked inevitable links with the side he left in 2007.

“Every time I come (to London), people start immediately to make the connections that I will return. I fuel it a little bit. I say every day I love it here, I had a fantastic time here, I will return one day”, said the Real Madrid coach who is reportedly set to leave the Bernabeau in the summer after a turbulent season. “To be fair, I contribute to that speculation,” said Mourinho.

The last utterance is suggestive that Mourinho is fully aware of what he is trying to do. Having achieved his first remit as Madrid boss, to overcome the Barcelona juggernaut of Pep Guardiola, and with the second, to win the European Cup with a third club, still perfectly possible, the Portuguese is weighing up his next move. Perhaps Mourinho thinks that, having fought the attritional war of player power with both Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos this year, the second aim of his reign, if he does not achieve it this year, may be too far out of reach and he will pack his bags regardless.

His publicised fall-outs with Casillas and Ramos, as well as apparent arguments with defender Pepe and Cristiano Ronaldo, has hinted at mutiny in the squad which has compounded Barcelona’s procession to the La Liga title with Madrid trailing their bitter Catalan rivals by thirteen points. Marca, the Madrid-based newspaper, reported that both Casillas and Ramos approached club president Florentino Perez to warn him that some players would leave the club if Mourinho continued past the summer.

Yet, against the setting of conflict and revolt, Madrid have been guided to the final of the Copa Del Rey and past Manchester United to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League. As the instability of a club riddled with massive egos and powerful influences threatened to engulf him, Mourinho has managed to salvage a season that now raises the prospect of success, quite possibly in the form of a tenth European Cup which would provide the perfect parting gift.

Mourinho.... public fall-out with both Casillas and Ramos derailed Madrid's season.

Mourinho…. public fall-out with both Casillas and Ramos derailed Madrid’s season.

Many classed his recent duel with Manchester United as an audition for the possible inheritance of Sir Alex Ferguson’s managerial spot as he ages towards retirement, but it was the killer instinct he displayed upon seizing the sending off of Nani that will provide the Portuguese with the greatest reassurance of his standing in the game.

He ruthlessly dispatched of United, just as he did Barcelona a week previously in the Copa Del Rey with a display of unerring counter-attack and imperious tactics. With everything contriving to go against him, Mourinho possesses the armoury to prove, time and time again, that he is still the “Special One”. With Guardiola now Munich-bound, there is nobody in the game more in demand than an unsettled Mourinho and the coach is fully aware of that, it explains why he finds fuelling the fire of speculation so inviting.

Even Massimo Moratti, his ex-employer at Inter Milan, has this week been forced to deny that he has been in touch with the coach regarding a return to the San Siro but given Mourinho’s current stock, these stories are unavoidable. Mourinho, such is his proven excellence, can demand nearly any job at an any salary on any terms and should, as is appearing evermore likely, he leave Madrid this summer, he will rely on a confident belief that another offer won’t be to far off.

His constant courting of English football maybe tiresome but it is indicative of the clamour the manager now carries, he can now pick where he wants to head next in anticipation that interested clubs will form an orderly queue. He hints at Chelsea and the media goes into overdrive with Chelsea.

That is the effect Mourinho now has and no less than his enigmatic brilliance deserves.


Written by Adam Gray

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Abou Diaby: Time for Wenger to let him go

My heart was torn into pieces after the official Sky Sports page tweeted, “Diaby ruled out for the rest of the season after sustaining cruciate ligament injury in training.”

Just a few months back, Wenger had some positive words for Diaby :

“I faced exactly the same questions with (Robin) van Persie and for a while everybody thought Van Persie will never play a season, but last year he played 55 games “

“They can get over this cycle, but you always have a little fear that another injury can come in “

“We had that for a long time with Van Persie and suddenly he got over it and I hope Diaby is over it now as well.”

That’s 38 injuries in 5 years. For a top notch player that is proper frustrating; talk less of the fans who have solemnly been behind him through his never-ending injuries.

I for once have never doubted Diaby’s potential despite his frequent injuries, he is the sort of guy you want in your team ; a box to box type of player, mostly described by the press as “languid, elusive, and athletic”. He also possesses attractive dribbling abilities that can be frustrating at times, but it is always fun to watch nevertheless.

Despite all his fantastic abilities, his worrisome injuries have played a negative part on his time at Arsenal where he has appeared in only 16 occasions this season.

After watching his fair performance against Swansea, I found myself accepting his future with the Gunners is still very bright and if (only) he could stay fit, he would continue to improve everyday and overruling the idea getting a replacement anytime soon. But after getting this abhorrent update on his injury which has ruled him out of action for almost a year, I have finally accepted it is all but over for Diaby at Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger now needs to find a replacement for Diaby. I can understand his frustrations after sticking and encouraging Abou through his hard times, but it’s the duty of the manager to take necessary actions for the better of the team - he is paid to do that. The lad is out for close to a year and expecting Arsenal to stick and wait for another miraculous comeback is utter foolishness, especially for a big club like the Gunners.

Deadwood, underrated and injury prone players at Arsenal all need to move on this summer. I don’t care how Arsenal fans would take this but I would tag Abou Diaby under “Injury prone and Deadwood”. Wenger has been patient enough and I respect that so much. Not every manager in the Premier League would have supported Diaby for that long , just like in the case of Ferguson and Owen Hargreaves.

Diaby was given enough time to recuperate from his unfortunate injuries, not forgetting the backing of the staffs and the fans. But now enough is enough. It didn’t materialize. The club has tried and they can only wish the best for him with his recovery.

If Abou finally pulls through from this horrible long term injury, releasing him is the most logical idea to embark on. Players come and go. It’s time to move on. Goodbye Diaby.


Written by @femi4arsenal

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Sunderland vs Manchester United: Match Preview

What a welcome relief. The International break is well and truly over (at least for now). Focus shifts to club football once again. This is what the fans really care about, not some boring games all in the name of World Cup Qualifiers, although some games were hugely entertaining.

Manchester United resume domestic affairs in a bid to win its 20th English crown. Their next adventure is at the Stadium of Light where relegation threatened Sunderland await the challenge.

It has been a bit of a surprise that the black cats are flirting with relegation this season. They lie in 15th place on 31 points, level with Southampton who are 16th. Although they are only 3 points behind 11th placed Stoke City (34 pts). Mathematically, all ten teams are not safe from relegation. From Stoke who occupy the 11th spot to lowest ranked QPR.

The team is led by one of the most experienced managers in British football, Martin O’Neil, whose spells at Celtic, Leicester City and Aston Villa brought a lot of success. He was expected to replicate something similar at Wearside. It hasn’t been as anticipated.

Backed by multi-millionaire owner, Ellis Short, they have spent in excess of 30 million pounds this season bringing in the likes of Adam Johnson, Steven Fletcher and ex-Swan, Danny Graham. Results haven’t gone their way at all and their last outing in the Premier League ended in a 1-all draw v the yellow submarines of English football, Norwich. This is an even bigger test. The biggest of their season. Manchester United come to town.

Sir Alex Ferguson has still not forgotten his team’s ordeal in the hands of the Sunderland fans when the announcement came through that Kun Aguero had scored an injury time winner for the Citizens of Manchester to effectively end United’s hopes of claiming a 20th top flight domestic triumph.

They were vociferous in their scorn and ridicule of the Red Devils who until the 91st minute, were champions of England. The Scotsman and his talisman, Wayne Rooney have repeatedly stated this term that they will never forget that fateful day and the latter also added that he now checks when his team plays Sunderland as soon as the fixture list is released. It was and still is that hurtful.

The champions-elect come into this game 15 points ahead of closest challengers, City who have stuttered this season and failed to rise up to the occasion when it matters most. Fergie and his boys know that only a collapse even more tumultuous than the earthquake that struck Japan a few years ago, can stop the Premier League trophy from finding its way back to where it has stayed 12 times prior.

During the International Break, the likes of Rooney, RVP and Chicharito were on song for their respective national teams. On a personal and collective level for RvP’s Oranje, everything went as dreamed. 2 clean sheets and 7 goals scored with RVP contributing to 6 (3 goals, 3 assists) of the strikes. The Dutchman has now scored 34 goals for the Netherlands and is just 6 behind the Legendary Patrick Kluivert (40).

For England, it was a relatively satisfactory performance with 4 points gained from two matches played. Rooney struck and assisted against the World’s biggest minnows, San Marino and then added another sweet headed goal v Montenegro in Podgorica where he was famously red carded in a Euro 2012 Qualifier. With that goal, the Englishman joined Michael Owen as the two players who have scored the most goals in competitive games for the 3Lions-26.

Javier Hernandez a.k.a Lil Pea made his presence felt in Mexico’s game v Honduras. His two goals for the Tri were not enough to earn a victory as the opponents came back from 2 down to even the score. On a personal level though, his brace took him to an excellent 30 since his debut. SENSATIONAL!

Antonio Valencia and Ecuador scored great wins v El Salvador (friendly) and Paraguay (WCQ) and Tony V made a telling contribution in each of them. Ashley Young was also among the scorers in the San Marino game and is in fine form.

Sunderland are without Steven Fletcher and Captain Lee Cattermole who have both been ruled out until next season - a big blow to the Black Cats’ survival push. Fletcher was injured in the Scotland-Wales game and their worst fears have now been confirmed. Connor Wickham is expected to fill the void over the next two months or so.

The Black Cats have other options in midfield, but Lee’s driving force and leadership qualities will be sorely missed in the run-in.


Probable Lineups


Mignolet, Gardner, O’Shea, Cuellar, Rose, Larsson, Vaughan, Sessegnon, Johnson, McClean, Graham

Stephane Sessegnon has been very poor this season. The Benin International has been well below par for the Wearsiders and it has been evident in results and performances thus far. This is where great players are counted and a good showing v Manchester United will assuage fears of relegation.

Danny Graham must stand up to be counted as well. The striker has been here and there since his arrival and in the absence of Fletcher, he must carry the burden of scoring the needed goals.


Manchester United-

DDG, Rafa, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Scholes, TonyV, Ashley Young, Rooney, RVP

Sir Alex Ferguson will definitely have one eye on Easter Monday’s FA Cup Quarter-Final replay at the Bridge when selecting his team for Saturday. The managerial great wants the domestic cup at all costs after missing out for the past nine years.

The evergreen Ryan Giggs will be needed to steer the Red Army ship past Chelsea on Monday and should be rested for the trip to the Stadium of Light. Paul ‘Ginger Maestro’ Scholes is back after a long layoff and should start the Sunderland game. Northern Irishman, Jonny Evans will start one of the two upcoming games.

The gaffer will choose the one best suited for him. Rooney and RVP will start as the team cannot afford any slip-ups and intend to be merciless.

The expected outcome should be a straightforward United victory, but who knows?


Written by Ohis Eboreime

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