Selasa, 31 Januari 2012

Fulham agree £4m bid from QPR for Bobby Zamora

Queens Park Rangers have agreed to sign striker Bobby Zamora from Fulham for a fee of £4m.

Zamora is yet to have his medical but personal terms have been agreed and he looks set to be reunited with his former Fulham boss Mark Hughes at QPR.

The England forward joined Fulham for £4.8m from West Ham in July 2008.

Earlier this month Cottagers manager Martin Jol dismissed reports that Zamora was set to leave amid rumours of a rift between the two.

Zamora, who has scored seven goals in 29 appearances this season, signed a four-year deal to 2014 with Fulham when Hughes was manager of the west London club.

Meanwhile, midfielder Martin Rowlands has left QPR after his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

The 32-year-old was signed from Brentford by Ian Holloway in July 2003 and made more than 200 appearances for the Rs.

Arshavin in talks with Anzhi

Andrey Arshavin is in preliminary talks with Russian heavyweights Anzhi Makhachkala.

The mega-rich club are putting together a money-is-no object move to land the unsettled Gunners playmaker.

Anzhi chiefs sounded out Arshavin's advisors earlier in the season and the wheels are now in motion.

Arshavin's current deal expires in the summer of 2013.

Anzhi have identified the capture of Arshavin as key component in their quest to turn themselves into a domestic and European superpower.

The club, who are bankrolled by billionaire businessman Suleyman Kerimov are also planning a raid on Manchester City for Kolo Toure.

AC Milan reopen talk to sign Tevez

AC Milan have reopened negotiations over a dramatic late swoop for Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez,

The long-running saga of Tevez's future had appeared set to continue until the summer following a frustrating month for City in their attempts to part with the striker.

A number of potential suitors have emerged only to apparently drop their interest at a later date, with Paris St Germain and Inter Milan switching their focus elsewhere.

AC Milan's pursuit of the Argentine also seemed to be at an end when they completed the signing over the weekend of Maxi Lopez, who had been lined up as an alternative option if Tevez did not arrive.

However, vice-president Adriano Galliani left the door open for a last-minute move on Monday as he refused to rule out the possibility of a surprise switch.

And it is now understood that Milan have re-entered talks with Tevez's representatives ahead of Tuesday's 11pm deadline.

There is still a lot of work for the Rossoneri to do to finalise his capture and it would require a change of heart from one of the clubs over the terms of a deal.

City have always maintained that they want to sell the 27-year-old, while Milan had previously been keen to sign him on loan with a view to making the arrangement permanent in the summer.

Milan may not be the only option for Tevez at this late stage, though, with ambitious Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala also still thought to be interested.

Chelsea unveil new signing Kevin de Bruyne.

Chelsea have signed winger Kevin De Bruyne from Racing Genk, the Belgian club have announced.

The 20-year-old completed a medical in London on Monday before signing a five-and-a-half-year deal with the Blues.

The Belgian club have just announced the deal on their official website, stating that the transfer was completed 30 minutes after the midnight.

De Bruyne will remain at Genk until the end of the season and will join his new teammates for pre-season training in June.

Chelsea have been tracking the promising midfielder for a while now and they see him as one for the future.

Boss Andre Villas-Boas recently revealed that the club had identified the Belgian as a target before he arrived to the club, and that is probably one of the reasons why De Bruyne was allowed to stay at Genk until the summer.

The highly rated winger amassed the total of 84 league appearances for the Belgian giants, and scored 14 goals in the process.

Bridge undergoes Sunderland medical

Manchester City defender Wayne Bridge is undergoing a medical at Sunderland ahead of a proposed loan move, according to reports here Tuesday.

The 31-year-old former England international has only played once for manager Roberto Mancini this season in a 2-0 League Cup win over Birmingham on September 21.

Bridge joined City from Chelsea in a £12million move in January 2009, but has managed only 58 appearances in his three years with the club.

Bridge, who has 30 senior England caps, would fill a position which has been vacant for some time at the Stadium of Light.

He began his career with home-town club Southampton and hit the big time when he was snapped up by Chelsea in a £7million deal in July 2003.

West Brom agree fee for Liam Ridgewell

Birmingham defender Liam Ridgewell is finally poised to join West Brom after the two clubs agreed a fee.

Ridgewell is currently having talks over personal terms at the Baggies' training ground with a view to completing the move before Tuesday's transfer deadline.

Albion had an initial bid rejected for the former Aston Villa player and head coach Roy Hodgson indicated that he was prepared to "move on'' from any potential deal.

However, their latest offer has now been accepted by the Championship play-off contenders.

Ridgewell made it clear last summer he wanted to leave St Andrew's after handing in a transfer request. He will provide competition for Nicky Shorey at left-back and can also operate as a central defender.

Ridgewell moved from Villa to Blues nearly five years ago to secure regular first-team football and was a member of last season's Carling Cup-winning team.

But Ridgewell made it clear he wanted to remain in the Premier League following Birmingham's relegation last May.

He will link up at the Hawthorns with goalkeeper Ben Foster, who is on loan from Blues.

The top today stories from papers and websites - 31 January 2012

The Sun

  • Roman Pavlyuchenko's Tottenham career looks over after a training ground bust-up.

  • Arsenal striker Robin van Persie has escaped an FA charge over an alleged elbowing incident with Aston Villa defender Carlos Cuellar.

  • Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea faces Stoke tonight after Anders Lindegaard suffered a training injury.

  • Arsenal have agreed a £600,000 fee for Borussia Dortmund youngster Thomas Eisfeld.

  • Everton boss David Moyes is closing in on a £6million swoop for Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic.

  • Wigan boss Roberto Martinez insists he will not be selling Victor Moses this month - but may cash in on Hugo Rodallega.

  • Fulham hope to tie up the signing of Stuttgart striker Pavel Pogrebnyak today.

  • West Ham were last night trying to broker a shock deal for Manchester United midfielder Ravel Morrison.

  • Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka is closing in on a loan move to Bayer Leverkusen.

  • Blackburn's wantaway skipper Christopher Samba trained on his own again yesterday - as he holds out for a last-minute move from Ewood Park.

  • Wolves boss Mick McCarthy insists Kevin Doyle is going nowhere.

  • Bolton boss Owen Coyle has warned Crystal Palace he will not be held to ransom over Wilfried Zaha.

  • Liverpool could land Swedish goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt.

  • Barnsley turned down a 'derisory' offer from West Ham for their striker Ricardo Vaz Te.

  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is ready to make a shock bid for Watford defender Adrian Mariappa, who was a target for Newcastle.

Daily Mirror

  • Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has slammed Manchester City's business methods and insisted Andy Carroll is going nowhere.

  • Wigan forward Hugo Rodallega will face Tottenham tonight - and could end up signing for them after the game at White Hart Lane.

  • Bolton boss Owen Coyle has told Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill to save his phone bill - and stop pestering him for striker Kevin Davies.

  • Bolton hope future profits will convince Crystal Palace to part with Wilfried Zaha.

  • Blackburn are ready to sign Sweden international Marcus Olsson - to team up with his twin Martin.

  • West Brom have made an improved offer for Birmingham defender Liam Ridgewell in a bid to head off Stoke's interest.

  • Fulham boss Martin Jol is closing in on a £7million deal for Borussia Dortmund striker Lucas Barrios.

  • Everton target Nikica Jelavic is pleading with Rangers boss Ally McCoist to let him move on deadline day.

  • QPR boss Mark Hughes is keen to take Carlos Tevez off former club Manchester City - and help them win the title.

  • Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka is a £6million target for Bayer Leverkusen.

  • Leicester boss Nigel Pearson is set to sign Stoke winger Ben Marshall today for £1million.

  • Doncaster are trying to sign Habib Beye on a permanent deal from Aston Villa.

  • Nottingham Forest are facing another blow with the £1million sale of teenage striker Patrick Bamford to Chelsea.

Daily Star

  • Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has hit out at stayaway striker Carlos Tevez and his agent.

  • Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega is set to join Fulham or QPR today.

Daily Mail

  • Tottenham have opened talks with Manchester City over a permanent deal for Emmanuel Adebayor.

  • Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is battling it out with Juventus for the signature of Roma midfielder David Pizarro.

  • Everton have agreed a £500,00 deal for AEK Athens defender Kostas Manolas.

  • Wigan and Swansea maintain an interest in Watford defender Adrian Mariappa.

  • Christopher Samba trained on his own once again at Blackburn yesterday still hopeful that Galatasaray, QPR or Tottenham will make a deadline day move to sign him.

  • Reading are set to offer £3million-plus Simon Church for Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith.

  • Fulham are raiding crisis club Portsmouth for talented youngster Ryan Williams in a £500,000 deal.

  • Wayne Bridge will end his Manchester City misery by signing for Sunderland on deadline day.

Daily Express

  • Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has made the claim that Manchester City should be jealous of their achievements this season.

  • Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill must somehow persuade Kevin Davies to ask Bolton for a transfer if they have any hope of landing the striker before the close of the transfer window.

  • Tottenham will make a last-gasp bid for Blackburn duo Christopher Samba and Junior Hoilett.

  • Everton are on the brink of wrapping up a £5million-plus deal for Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic.

  • West Ham are on the verge of signing Genoa striker Ze Eduardo.

The Times

  • Manchester City were facing up last night to the prospect of Carlos Tevez remaining with them until the summer as a number of clubs jostled for position on the final day of the transfer window.

  • Gary Cahill is set to make his Chelsea debut against Swansea this evening after John Terry was ruled out with a knee problem.


  • Kenny Dalglish has demanded that clubs be allowed to conduct their business in confidence, 48 hours after the leaking of details of Liverpool's exploratory telephone call to Manchester City in which the notion of swapping Andy Carroll for Carlos Tevez was broached

Daily Record

  • Craig Whyte sold off four years of fans' money to help fund his Rangers buy-out, it was revealed last night.

  • Nikica Jelavic is set to sign for Everton today after the Merseysiders last night thrashed out a deal to take him from Rangers. 

Daily Telegraph

  • West Ham are expected to finalise a deal to sign Manchester United’s prodigiously gifted midfielder Ravel Morrison today.

  • Tottenham Hotspur are planning a deadline day transfer bid for Marko Marin, Werder Bremen’s German international midfielder.

  • Queens Park Rangers are expecting to complete the £4 million signing of former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse.

Senin, 30 Januari 2012

Sagna keen to rediscover his best form

Bacary Sagna was delighted to return to action for Arsenal against Aston Villa at the weekend after a lengthy injury lay-off.

The right-back came on as a late substitute in the dying stages of the Gunners' 3-2 FA Cup fourth-round victory on Sunday.

It marked the first time Sagna has been on the pitch since October, when he suffered a broken ankle at Tottenham which sidelined him for four months.

The Frenchman admits his spell on the sidelines has been tough but is determined to get back to his best.


"I am absolutely delighted," he told Arsenal Player. "It's been quite difficult all these months - four is a long time.

"I just needed to get back as quick as possible and now I finally am. Now I just need to work even harder to get back because I have only had two training sessions and it is not easy. But I will do it.

"I will still work with the fitness coach but I will only get fit by playing games. I am just biding my time to start a game now but I am not rushing. I just want to give the maximum to get myself into the best position.

"It was nice to have support from my wife, kids and my friends. The fans have also supported me a lot during my recovery and it was quite helpful when I was working."

City boosted as Kompany back

Leaders Manchester City welcome back captain Vincent Kompany, one of the best defenders in Europe according to his manager Roberto Mancini, for Tuesday's Premier League game at Everton.

The Belgian international returns after being given a four-match ban for a clumsy two-footed challenge on Manchester United winger Nani at the start of the month.

“Vinny is an important defender for us, a leader,” Mancini told reporters on Monday.

“He is a strong defender and has improved a lot in the last two to three years. He is one of the best in Europe.”

City go into the game holding a three-point lead over second-placed United, who entertain Stoke City at Old Trafford.

Mancini said it was now a straight fight between both Manchester teams after City defeated third-placed Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 on January 22, the previous round of league fixtures before last weekend's FA Cup ties.

Asked if it was now a two-horse race, the Italian said: “Yes, I think so. I think it will be very difficult for the others because maybe it's impossible that us and United lose all our remaining matches.

“Of course over 16 games anything can happen but at the moment it's between City and United.”

Kompany believes his side are capable of winning all their remaining fixtures despite being depleted in attack with striker Mario Balotelli still being banned and the Carlos Tevez saga dragging on.

“There is a belief in the City team we can become even stronger towards the end of the season,” said the defender.

“We are set up quite nicely for the finish. I don't see why we cannot win all our remaining games.

“If we just keep doing what we're doing and don't get sidetracked with all the talk in the newspapers and such like, teams will find it hard to beat us,” added Kompany.

United manager Alex Ferguson is looking forward to the match against Stoke, a team he said had the same sort of never-say-die fighting spirit as 1988 FA Cup winners Wimbledon.

“You know what Tony Pulis's teams are like, they are always the same with 100 percent commitment,” said Ferguson. “They all get stuck in and you have to cope with it – I quite enjoy that.

“When we used to play Wimbledon ... when they first came into the top division ... nobody looked forward to playing them. But then my team started to enjoy it.

“It was a physical challenge in the way they played and a physical challenge in terms of trying to take control of the possession and play your football,” added Ferguson.

Spurs, five points adrift of United, entertain bottom of the table Wigan Athletic at White Hart Lane while fourth-placed Chelsea are expected to give a debut to England defender Gary Cahill at Swansea City.

Liverpool, in seventh, also take on struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, fifth-placed Arsenal visit Bolton Wanderers, lowly Blackburn Rovers entertain sixth-placed Newcastle United, Aston Villa host Queens Park Rangers, West Bromwich Albion travel to Fulham and Norwich City visit Sunderland.

Reds rule out deadline deals

Kenny Dalglish says he will not be making any new signings before the window closes, while Andy Carroll is not for sale.

Carroll has been heavily linked with a move away from Anfield with Tottenham the latest club said to be showing an interest, while there has also been talk of a swap deal involving Manchester City's Carlos Tevez.

However Dalglish has dismissed the rumours and says it will be a very low key transfer deadline at Anfield as he will not be conducting any business, incoming or outgoing.

"There is no-one going in or out of the club before the transfer window [closes]," the Scot revealed when quizzed about all the Carroll rumours. "There is nothing happening here."

Luca Toni leaves Juventus for United Arab Emirates

Juventus has confirmed that out-of-favor forward Luca Toni has completed his move to United Arab Emirates outfit Al Nasr.

Bianconeri general manager Beppe Marotta revealed over the weekend that the former Italy international was on the verge of joining the Pro-League outfit, and the deal was announced on the club's official website on Monday.

"Juventus Football Club confirms the departure of Luca Toni on a permanent deal," a brief statement read. "The striker has completed a switch to Al Nasr in the United Arab Emirates."

The 34-year-old striker only arrived in Turin from Genoa last January but he only managed two goals in 14 Serie A appearances before the end of the season, and was completely frozen out of the Bianconeri side following the arrival of Antonio Conte as coach during the summer.

The 2006 World Cup winnner will now be linking up with former Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga in Dubai.

The top today stories from papers and websites - 30 January 2012

Daily Mail

  • Andy Carroll has vowed to stay and fight for his place at Liverpool.

  • Everton have shown their hand in the race to sign Nikica Jelavic and have made a £5m offer.

  • Chelsea have made a £1m offer for Nottingham Forest forward Patrick Bamford.

  • Fulham have offered £2m plus Andy Johnson for Wigan's Hugo Rodallega.

  • QPR hope to finalise a loan for Lazio's Djibril Cisse.

  • Sunderland will make a final bid for Bolton's Kevin Davies.

The Sun

  • Andy Carroll has vowed to fight for his Liverpool future despite the latest rumours they want to offload him.

  • David Moyes plans to empty Everton's transfer kitty to bring Nikica Jelavic to Goodison.

  • Arsenal are ready to make a shock swoop for Watford's Adrian Mariappa.

  • Martin O'Neill will today step up his bid to bring Bolton's Kevin Davies to Sunderland.

  • Chelsea have bid £1m for Nottingham Forest teenager Patrick Bamford.

  • Alan Smith has joined MK Dons on loan from Newcastle for the rest of the season.

Daily Mirror

  • Liverpool would take Carlos Tevez on loan.

  • Blackburn hope to sell Mauro Formica to Flamengo.

  • Bolton are planning a double swoop for Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and Porto's Juan Iturbe.

  • Leicester have made an improved £750,000 bid for Stoke's Ben Marshall.

  • Everton are making a late bid to land Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic.

  • Blackpool are making a £250,000 bid for Motherwell's Jamie Murphy.

  • Wolves will make a £2m move for Crystal Palace's Nathaniel Clyne.

  • Newcastle want to seal a deal for Danish defender Jores Okore.

  • Liverpool are ready to snap up Wrexham 'keeper Danny Ward.

Daily Express

  • Andy Carroll has vowed to save his Liverpool career despite renewed claims the club are trying to sell him behind his back.

  • Chelsea will not make a last-ditch plunge into the transfer market to replace injured midfielder Ramires.

  • Eden Hazard has confirmed he is leaving Lille in the summer for England with Manchester City and Chelsea linked.

  • Leicester are set to sign Wes Morgan from Nottingham Forest for £1m.


  • Chelsea are in talks with Genk over the signing of Kevin de Bruyne, the Belgian club said on Wednesday.

Daily Record

  • Joachim Low and Rafa Benitez lead the list of candidates to replace Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid in the summer


  • Eden Hazard has admitted he wants to leave Lille in the summer - alerting several Premier League clubs.

The Daily Telegraph

  • West Ham will wait until the final hours of the transfer window to try and secure a loan for Manchester City 's Carlos Tevez.

Sky Sports

  • West Ham are hoping to complete a deal for Brazilian striker Ze Eduardo.


  • Tottenham will battle Paris St Germain for the signature of Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao.

Minggu, 29 Januari 2012

How Wenger fell in love with Andrey Arshavin

Andrey Arshavin was a nine-year-old prospect making his way through the Smena football academy in St Petersburg when one of his compatriots blazed the trail into English football. Andrei Kanchelskis joined Manchester United and soon became one of 13 players from outside Britain and Ireland to take part in the first weekend of the newly formed Premier League.

Even as the imports boomed, Russians remained a rarity. In 1996, to universal astonishment, Sergei Yuran and Vasili Kulkov, internationals with pedigree honed at Benfica, Porto and Spartak Moscow, suddenly turned up at Millwall, who were struggling in England's second tier. "Obviously we have played for some of the great clubs in Europe but this is the pinnacle of our careers," announced Yuran at his official unveiling, before he and his friend flopped spectacularly. Millwall's manager, Jimmy Nicholl, gave a succinct assessment of Yuran's efforts: "The only thing the other players could have possibly learned from him while he was here was how to steal a living."

With the benefit of a little hindsight, Yuran, whose spell in England is recalled as a drunken blur as he arrived intent to continue his recent wedding celebrations for as long as possible, could not even disagree.

"Jimmy Nicholl even said that I was the most unprofessional player he'd ever met," he says. "And that was true. I gave in to my weaknesses. My honeymoon lasted for six months. I forgot about football. I'd turn up for training after yet another wild night at a disco with my beloved new wife." Yuran and Kulkov lasted six months in England.

For some reason Russian players who arrive with qualities seemingly perfect for Premier League football tend to lose their powers in England. Roman Pavlyuchenko has never quite lived up to expectation at Tottenham. Yuri Zhirkov came and went at Chelsea. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has just returned to the Russian league after an unconvincing spell at Everton. But none are quite as puzzling as Arshavin.

When Arsenal signed him in snowbound London at the end of the January transfer window three years ago, the sense of anticipation was palpable. Here was a player with originality and technique who possessed the kind of talent you could build a team around. Zenit St Petersburg had done that and been brilliantly rewarded with trophies. Russia had done that and captured the imagination at the 2008 European Championship. Arsenal fans had not been so excited by a transfer since Dennis Bergkamp arrived from Italy. "I am Gooner," said Arshavin with that meerkat voice and funny owlish expression. They were smitten.

Fast forward to last Sunday and Arshavin was the collateral damage when Arsène Wenger was vilified by Arsenal fans for substituting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arshavin looked visibly shocked as the boos cascaded down.

Wenger was right to point out later that the opprobrium was not so much directed at Arshavin coming on, but at the hooking of a player who had lit up the game. But when Arshavin went home to reflect upon what had happened, he should have been asking himself this: I have been here for three seasons and am at the age I should be at my peak. I am captain of Russia. I am the club's record signing. Shouldn't I be the one they don't want to see leaving the pitch having played like a dream?

Arshavin has, for some time, looked like a shadow of the player who threatened to dazzle in England, but now the memory of a luminescent night at Anfield when he scored four goals is a reminder of what might have been.

His body language – and some might argue his body shape – has changed considerably. Wenger reiterated how much he "loves" Arshavin as a player and also as a person in the build-up to an FA Cup meeting with Aston Villa, but it must be frustrating to feel that he has evidently not been able to flick the switch to spark the mercurial Russian into a consistent run of form.

Wenger's reluctance to play him in his preferred position, as a classic No10, is confusing. While it is easy to criticise Arshavin, and he has too easily appeared defeatist, the requirements of a modern winger – the ability to track back, the stamina to patrol his flank, the pace to beat a full-back – have never been his major assets. Imagine if Bergkamp, who was a terrible tackler, and relied on speed of thought rather than speed of movement – had been asked to play wide left for three seasons. It probably would not have inspired the best from him, either.

Wenger's history of moulding efficient wide attacking midfield players who scored and assisted, which he did to brilliant effect with Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires, is something he has strained to recreate in recent years with Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott and Arshavin.

Ironically, Arshavin's best performance this season came as a playmaker, roaming from a central position behind the strikers, in a Carling Cup win against Bolton Wanderers.

As an unhappy, under-confident, player, a return to Russia is probably best for all concerned. But with Arsenal's squad so stretched, with attacking options so limited, and with the club unlikely to ring the changes in what's left of this winter window, that is not realistic for now. The mystery of Arshavin's struggle in England is destined to go on.

Why Mourinho has decided to leave Real Madrid this summer for Prem

Even in the midst of wilful reticence, Jose Mourinho expressed the absurdity that envelopes Real Madrid.

"We have five points more than the team that everyone thinks is the best in the world," Mourinho said ahead of Wednesday's el clasico. "It is because we are not doing as badly and have as many problems as people think we have.

"When I came here, the club had a tradition of being eliminated from the Copa del Rey by teams from the lower divisions. When I arrived, we were not seeded in the Champions League; now we have the record for most wins in the group stage. I seem to have so many problems."

His frustrations are not difficult to understand. As things stood ahead of last night's 20th round of Liga fixtures, Mourinho's Real were in position to end the hegemony of a Barcelona side dubbed by many as not just best on the planet, but greatest of all time. The result of their late April return to the Camp Nou, where now characteristically poor refereeing cost them a victory last week, is set to be irrelevant.

Six Champions League wins out of six matches, 19 goals for and two conceded in group games versus Lyon, Ajax and Dinamo Zagreb, argues that they are best placed to depose Barcelona of their European crown the following month.

And the grandmaster of anti-futbol? Yes, that is the same man who has led Real to a half-season record of 67 Liga goals, eight more than Barcelona.

When Mourinho agreed to become Real manager, the night before leading Inter Milan to the Champions League at the Bernabeu, they were without a title of any magnitude for two years despite spending €200m (Dh971m) on Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema the preceding summer.

With a fraction of that budget, he immediately took the club to a re-energising Copa del Rey victory over Barcelona, and might have eliminated them from the Champions League if not for some deeply controversial refereeing decisions. In his second campaign, Mourinho has repeated his achievements at Porto, Chelsea and Inter, sending his side clear in the league while establishing them as one of Europe's two strongest teams.

His decision to make this year in the Bernabeu his last derives from a sense of exasperation, a feeling that no matter what he brings to Real the club will remain ungrateful and dysfunctional.

He is tired of a supposedly pliant local press that, in truth, holds undue influence over the club. Mourinho's attempts to break their control by ending open access to training and banning one-on-one interviews has borne greater resistance. Last week Marca ran a transcript of a training ground argument between Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas. And Diario AS likened his leadership skills to the capsized cruise-boat captain, Francesco Schettino.

He is weary of the quixotic culture of "Madridismo" that struggles to define itself yet continually seems to stand in the way of on-field success, permeating the media and leaching through the institutions of the club. He is jaded by a cadre of Spain internationals who believe they are the best in the world and know more about the management and tactics of success than a coach who has won spectacularly and systematically everywhere he has been.

Questioned by Mourinho for ignoring his marking assignment at Barcelona's equaliser in the Copa del Rey first leg, Ramos argued back, and an inaccurate version of the discussion ended up in the public domain.

Ramos is, like Casillas, more inconsistent than reputation suggests, but he is sheltered from criticism by the Madrid sports dailies who continue the corrosive culture of player relationships behind the scenes.

Questions over their willingness, along with Xabi Alonso, to follow the example of Sergio Busquets and go the extra, brutal mile against Spain teammates in clasicos are rarely raised. Instead, stories have been leaked of the Spanish world champions overriding Mourinho's tactics to win in Malaga and selecting the line-up for Wednesday's second leg at the Camp Nou.

"Completely untrue," said a Mourinho confidant. "You know Jose."

What Mourinho did not instruct the team to do was drop their high line against Barcelona in the first leg and meekly hand over possession to their opponents. That reflected a psychological weakness against the champions the manager has been battling to rectify.

It may also be the fault line that best explains Mourinho's resolve to end his time in Madrid. One of his greatest strengths as a manager is an ability to inspire loyalty and extract performances through the brilliance of his training, tactics and personality.

From Benfica, via Leiria, Porto, Chelsea and Inter, it is almost impossible to find a former charge who speaks negatively about him as a coach or a person.

It is something he says matters more to him now than titles or salary. What is fundamental is the pleasure he derives from his work, the feeling that he is working in unity to "build something to win". Crucially, he has learnt not to tolerate its loss.

Mourinho, 49, describes his abortive 2007/08 campaign with Chelsea as "the worst season of my career" and his decision not to leave after a year in which Roman Abramovich's support for him evaporated as "my worst mistake as a coach".

With Real, the plan is to complete a personal "grand slam" of English, Italian and Spanish titles, see if he can add a third Champions League, then return to the Premier League.

Mourinho has not been told by Real to win both or face the dismissal, and says he will join an English club even if one of the great names does not become available. As usual with Mourinho, though, his calculation is that there will be no shortage of offers from a league that values him all the more for his absence and is in an unusual state of flux.

Manchester United face losing the title to their neighbours; Roberto Mancini will struggle to find excuses if he cannot turn the division's strongest and most expensive squad into champions. Kenny Dalglish has the almost unquestioning loyalty of Liverpool's core support, but not the owners. Chelsea and Arsenal are struggling to qualify for the next Champions League, while one way or another Harry Redknapp is on his way out of Tottenham.

All could be looking to appoint in a few months times. When Mourinho is available he should always be top of the list.

Tevez vows not to quit football and return to Man City 

The top stories from papers and websites - 29 January 2012

Sunday Mirror

  • Manchester City have rejected an offer from Liverpool to swap Carlos Tevez for £35million misfit Andy Carroll.

  • Kenny Dalglish demanded a dramatic response from his Liverpool players seven days ago after a defeat at Bolton.

  • QPR manager Mark Hughes has called for the football authorities to ditch the pre-match handshake ritual.


  • Chelsea's John Terry was snubbed by QPR players on Saturday - forcing the FA to take the unprecedented step of cancelling the pre-match handshakes.

  • Patrice Evra was subjected to sustained barrages of booing as he returned to Anfield - and ended up as Manchester United's fall guy.

  • Carlos Tevez has vowed not to quit football and will tough out his enforced return to Manchester City.

Daily Star Sunday

  • Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp aims to turn White Hart Lane into Depart Lane this week with the sales of Spurs stars Steven Pienaar, Sebastien Bassong, Giovani dos Santos, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Vedran Corluka. Pienaar and Bassong could join QPR for a combined fee of £6million, Giovani is set to join Villarreal for £6.5million, while £9.5million-rated Pavlyuchenko is wanted by Sunderland and Russian clubs Anzhi Makhachkala and Spartak Moscow.

  • Liverpool are chasing Germany's exciting winger Marko Marin. The Werder Bremen star would cost around £18million. Tottenham and Inter Milan have also been linked.

  • Arsenal could follow Aston Villa's plan to introduce a safe seating area at Villa Park by copying the scheme at the Emirates.

  • Trabzonspor striker Burak Yilmaz is angling for a transfer to Arsenal, although Ajax, CSKA Moscow and Rubin Kazan have already lodged £12million bids for the Turkey international.

  • Sunderland are eyeing Burnley's England Under-21 striker Jay Rodriguez. The Clarets have valued him at £5million; Bolton and Everton are also interested.

  • Martin O'Neill is lining up a raid on Besiktas for striker Hugo Almeida as he looks to add more firepower to his Sunderland side. The 27-year-old Portugal international could arrive on loan for the rest of the season.

  • Wigan are set to accept a £4million bid for striker Hugo Rodallega in January rather than risk losing him for nothing in the summer. Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, Stoke, Sunderland and QPR have all been linked.

  • West Brom boss Roy Hodgson has played down reports he will try to sign Stuttgart striker Pavel Pogrebnyak before the transfer window closes.

  • Fulham are checking out FC Twente striker Luuk de Jong.

  • Wolves defender Jamie Reckord, 18, is joining Scunthorpe on loan for the rest of the season.

  • West Ham are considering dumping plans to move to the Olympic Stadium by staying at Upton Park.

  • Sam Allardyce has made a third bid of £5million for Huddersfield striker Jordan Rhodes, after West Ham's £6million bid for Rangers ace Nikica Jelavic was rejected.

  • Doncaster want to sign Peru left-back Jesus Rabanal, 27, from Universitario de Deportes.

  • Houston Dynamo are chasing West Ham winger Pablo Barrera, currently out on loan at Real Zaragoza.

  • Leicester have made a second bid for Stoke winger Ben Marshall.

  • Leeds are trying to beat Rangers in the race to sign Estonian right-back Enar Jaager.

  • Ken Bates has mocked Norwich for paying £2million for Leeds' contract rebel Jonny Howson.

  • Simon Grayson has admitted his hopes of keeping £5million-rated winger Robert Snodgrass depend on Leeds clinching a Premier League return.

  • Chris Hughton wants Nottingham Forest midfielder Lewis McGugan to join his play-off mission at Birmingham.

  • Nigel Adkins is set to boost Southampton's promotion challenge with the signing of Stoke defender Danny Collins on loan for the rest of the season.

  • Burnley will sign full-back Daniel Lafferty for £150,000 from Derry City after a successful trial.

  • Steve Coppell was only 24 hours away from being named as Republic of Ireland boss in 2008 - before Giovanni Trapattoni emerged as their No. 1 choice.

Sunday Express

  • Mark Hughes has called for an end to the pre-match ritual of teams lining up to shake hands.

  • Sir Alex Ferguson confessed he was "sick" at being knocked out of the FA Cup after claiming Manchester United had been in control of their tie at Liverpool.

Mail On Sunday

  • John Terry was saved from public humiliation on Saturday when the Football Association agreed to Chelsea and QPR scrapping the mass handshake that is meant to precede every match as a gesture of mutual respect.

  • Liverpool have launched an investigation in a bid to identify a fan accused of making racist gestures during the FA Cup fourth round victory over Manchester United.

  • The toxic tie between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea was settled by a controversial second-half penalty that Daniel Sturridge won with a dramatic fall in the box.

Sunday Telegraph

  • Liverpool are "working closely" with Merseyside Police to try to identify a man who appeared to make racist gestures during their 2-1 win over Manchester United.

  • The Queens Park Rangers team decided not to shake John Terry's hand ahead of Saturday's FA Cup tie with Chelsea, leading to the now traditional ritual being cancelled.

Sunday Times

  • Jose Mourinho has decided to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season to take up a job in the Premier League.

  • Andy Carroll, whose outstanding performance helped Liverpool beat Manchester United in Saturday's fractious FA Cup derby, was offered to Manchester City last week in a straight exchange for Carlos Tevez.

  • The grudge match that never was was settled by a penalty that never was.

The Observer

  • Liverpool have made a remarkable bid to swap Andy Carroll with Carlos Tevez and move on their club-record £35m signing not even a year after signing him from Newcastle.

  • Liverpool knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup but were put on the defensive when the question of racism again raised its head at Anfield.


  • The entire Queens Park Rangers team were prepared to publicly snub John Terry, had the Football Association not stepped in to prevent pre-match handshakes at Loftus Road on Saturday.

  • Newcastle's 43-year wait for a major trophy will continue for at least one more season thanks to one of their own supporters.

  • Carlos Tevez is unlikely to return to West Ham United on loan, his representative Kia Joorabchian said on Saturday. 

Fergie: Cleverley return could be key

Sir Alex Ferguson is optimistic Tom Cleverley can play a key role in United's race for a 20th league title.

The young midfielder caught the eye at the start of the season with a string of exciting performances but hasn't featured since 29 October at Goodison Park when he sustained ankle ligament damage. And although the boss admits Cleverley is "nowhere near the first-team at the moment", the 22-year-old is making considerable progress.

"Cleverley is doing a lot of running," Sir Alex revealed. "He's nowhere near the first-team at the moment but he's doing a lot of running. He'll be a terrific boost. It will be great to get the boy back because I think he's special."

Cleverley isn't the only midfielder targetting a swift return to the pitch. Ashley Young and Anderson are also nearing full fitness, with both due to train with the first-team this week.

"I expect [Ashley] to start training in the middle of the week, so he's on his way back. Cleverley is two weeks behind that. Anderson will be ready this week, too. He'll start training with us on Monday or Tuesday and then it gives me a collection of midfield players that should cope with anything that happens in the run-in.

"Michael Carrick's form has been unbelievable - he's been playing fantastic - and we'll also have Giggs, Scholes, Cleverley and Anderson, so that's a great group of midfield players that will definitely help us."

Liverpool reject bids for Dirk Kuyt from TWO European clubs.

Liverpool have rejected bids for Dirk Kuyt from Fiorentina and Roma.
The Dutch international – who scored the winner against Manchester United in yesterday’s FA Cup clash at Anfield after coming on as a substitute – is becoming increasingly frustrated at this lack of starts.
Kuyt is under contract at Anfield until 2013, but will seek talks on his future during the summer.
And the two Italian clubs head the queue to sign the 31-year-old, who has also just helped Liverpool reach the Carling Cup final.
Kuyt’s agent Rob Jansen said: “A lot of European clubs have firm interest in Dirk, and it is true there are Italian clubs among them. But Liverpool won’t let him leave at the moment.”

Fergie defends De Gea despite horror performance at Anfield

SIR ALEX FERGUSON stood by keeper David De Gea ­yesterday despite another blunder-filled display that gifted Liverpool a passage to the fifth round.

The £19million Spaniard, kept out of the firing line for four games after a string of ­unconvincing performances, was recalled for the trip to Liverpool.

And he ‘repaid’ his gaffer for the faith shown in him with one of his shakiest of the ­season.

De Gea was caught out by Steven Gerrard’s perfectly-delivered 20th-minute corner which Daniel Agger headed home.

And after a series of mistakes that spread panic in the United box, he could arguably have done more to stop Dirk Kuyt’s late strike that earned Liverpool victory.

But Fergie was in no mood to ­finger his keeper yesterday, claiming it was up to the United defenders to help out more. “Our own players created a problem for the first goal,” said Fergie. “They didn’t give David enough room to deal with it.”

Anders Lindegaard had started all four United games following their defeat by Blackburn on New Year’s Eve and it will be fascinating to see who Fergie selects for Tuesday’s Premier League clash at home to Stoke.

It was a bad day for Ferguson who had hoped his stars would see off Liverpool after beating Manchester City in the third round.

He said: “To lose it is a real sickening blow because we ­dominated in terms of possession. We were ­comfortable so it is a ­disappointment to lose.

“Some of our possession was good. Our movement off the ball was good and it was a really good finish by Park for the equaliser.

“At that point I thought we were in the driving seat. We have hit the post through Valencia and I thought Danny [Welbeck] could have scored in the second half.

“I wasn’t thinking about a replay near the end – I was looking to win it. That is why I put Hernandez on.

“I thought his pace around the edge of the box would be difficult to ­handle.”

Kuyt caught Patrice Evra, ­barracked for 90 minutes for his part in the Luis Suarez row, out of position late on to drill home Liverpool’s ­winner from an Andy Carroll headed flick but Fergie had his doubts about the legality of the goal.

He said: “I haven’t seen a replay of their winner so I’m not sure whether it was offside. But you don’t always get decisions here anyway.

“We never got anything from the referee, really, but in a way it was well handled.”

Fergie paid tribute to both teams – under the microscope following the Suarez-Evra row – for completing the 90 minutes without incident

“The players showed great respect to each other,” he said. “There was not a bad tackle in the game. It was played in a good spirit so we are pleased with that.”

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish refused to take credit for his match-clinching substitution after Kuyt’s winner.

He joked: “I take none whatsoever. I should have started with him ... we could have been finished in the first half.

“The commitment, the attitude, the desire to get a result was fantastic. I can’t speak highly enough of the players.”

Liverpool drew 2-2 with Manchester City on Wednesday to seal their spot in the Carling Cup final and will now be looking to book a second Wembley slot.

Yet just a week earlier all at Anfield was gloom following a ­catastrophic defeat at Bolton. Dalglish added: “We’ll have to see what this sort of week does for the rest of our season.

“It started badly for us at Bolton and it’s fantastic credit to the players and how much pride they take in the football club that they got themselves back on track as quickly as they did.”

Chelsea plot summer move for Real Madrid star Pepe

ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS will make a move for Real Madrid bad-boy Pepe in the summer – if the defender fails to ­repair his damaged ­relationship with the club.

La Liga leaders Real have ­decided to listen to offers for the 28-year-old after he was caught up in yet more controversy during the first leg of their Copa Del Rey quarter-final with fierce rivals Barcelona 11 days ago.

Pepe was accused of stamping on Lionel Messi’s hand as the Argentinian lay on the ground.

Although he has since been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Spanish Football Federation, that has not stopped a furore over the incident. Hotline understands that Real president Florentino Perez is ­growing increasingly tired of what he sees as a lengthening list of ­misdemeanours by the player.

Now Chelsea will ­monitor the situation and, if it proves to have broken down beyond repair, will see if a deal can be struck ­after Euro 2012.

The Real ­hierarchy believe that Pepe is ­damaging the ­image of the club, while the player ­himself is said to be furious at what he perceives to be a campaign in the Spanish press to paint him in a bad light.

Real boss Jose Mourinho is aware of the club’s position and knows that, unless things change between now and the end of the season, Pepe will be sold.

Villas-Boas is a big fan of the Brazil-born Portugal defender and believes he could be a key signing for Chelsea.

Pepe’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is aware of Villas-Boas’ interest in his client, ­although there has been no ­formal enquiry from Stamford Bridge.

Real paid Porto £25million for Pepe in 2007 and last summer signed a new deal to keep him in Madrid until 2016.

His annual salary at Real is around £3m, which Chelsea would be able to match.

QPR players snubbed John Terry forcing the FA to cancel pre-match handshakes

JOHN TERRY was snubbed by QPR players yesterday – forcing the FA to take the unprecedented step of cancelling the pre-match handshakes.

Action was taken after Rangers players made it clear on Friday they would not greet the England captain ahead of kick-off, in support of Anton Ferdinand – Terry is charged with racially ­abusing the defender.

Mark Hughes then called for pre-match handshakes to be SCRAPPED.

The QPR manager saw his side knocked out of the FA Cup as a Juan Mata penalty was enough to see Chelsea through to the next round.

But it was the scrapping of the Respect handshakes before kick-off at Loftus Road that caused the biggest stir as Rangers players made it clear they did not want to greet Chelsea skipper John Terry.

After learning of the ill-feeling in the QPR camp, the FA cancelled the formal handshakes — less than an hour before kick-off.

Hughes, who has avoided shaking hands with fellow ­managers, believes there is no longer any need for the ritual.

He said: “It was ­absolutely correct to cancel these handshakes.

“There was so much tension hinging on such a brief moment, it was clouding the issue: the FA Cup tie. The fact we took it out of the equation was the right thing to do.

“There were discussions yesterday. We had a meeting of management and players last night. Chelsea had their views and we came to the same decision.

“It could have been an issue. Players have to make their own decision. Anton had to make his own decision whether to shake JT’s hand.

“Why give handshakes if they’re not done with integrity? I have a history with handshakes.

“If they’re not right, why do them at all? They’re an irritation. I don’t know why people think it’s vitally important.


“Why not do it like in the good old days when the captains just greet in the centre circle.”

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas agreed with the FA’s late decision but believes the Respect greeting should not be scrapped.

He said: “It was a wise decision ­today. There was a lot of expectancy towards what would happen on the handshake’’

QPR skipper Joey Barton did shake Terry’s hand, however, but only as part of the pre-game coin toss routine. No arrests were made at yesterday’s match as police increased security. And on the pitch Terry, who was taunted and booed throughout by QPR fans, ­produced a good display.

Villas-Boas said: “It was an excellent performance from John. He managed to get the off-the-field events out of his mind and concentrate on the game.”

Ferdinand was undeterred by the intense atmosphere too, and Hughes added: “John’s a big figure in the game and I’m sure he gets booed at every away ground. Headlines don’t affect JT. That was the same today.

“Anton conducted himself really well, not only this week but for a number of weeks. It was difficult ­because the focus was all on him, but he put in a tremendous ­performance. If I’d had any doubts, I wouldn’t have picked him.”

Tevez vows not to quit football and return to Man City

Carlos Tevez has vowed not to quit football and will tough out his enforced return to Manchester City.

There were fears the 27-yearold Argentinian striker would turn his back on the game if he couldn’t resolve his dispute with City in the January window.

But despite seeing a move to AC Milan break down on Friday night Tevez will return to Manchester and report to City’s training ground at Carrington, possibly on Thursday.

Tevez hasn’t been at the club since making an unauthorized trip to Buenos Aires in November for which he was fined £1.2 million, as exclusively revealed by People Sport.

But with the transfer window set to close on Tuesday night and no move in sight for Tevez ,the unhappy South American knows he has no option but to return to City.

It is believed Tevez did consider quitting earlier this season when his spat with manager Roberto Mancini and the club was raging.


Tevez was thought to be at a low ebb and considering his future following his row with Mancini, sparked by his refusal to continue warming up during the Champions League game with Bayern Munich last September.

But I understand Tevez now has a fresh determination to reach the end of the season with City – even though it means playing and training with the Elite Development Squad and having no training contact with the first team.

Tevez will then hope to get his ticket out of the club despite having two years left on his contract.

By then his value will have decreased to around £24m – and Paris St Germain will be major players for his signature.

Milan is still the preferred choice for Tevez but a move to Paris could become more viable if the French club are in the Champions League next season.

PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti is a big fan of Tevez and wants him to spearhead the next phase of the club’s development – in much the same way he helped fire City into the top four of the Premier League last season.

Tevez and his advisors will keep a close eye on how PSG perform in the second half of the season – and a move to Ligue 1 could be a summer option.