Sportingo’s Mark Rivlin brings us the latest football gossip and rumours also includes new talk of a European Super League breakaway, plus mentions for Sunderland, Juventus, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth.
Arsenal are leading calls for a boycott of the Champions League by Europe’s top clubs unless UEFA president Michel Platini scraps his controversial reforms for the competition (Daily Telegraph). The 18 clubs which make up the G14 are threatening to set up a breakaway European Super League unless Platini backs down over his pledge to open up the Champions League to more countries from smaller nations.
The paper reports that frantic negotiations are already under way between the leading clubs and leagues in Europe to persuade the UEFA chief to drop his controversial reforms.
Arsenal are against the proposal which would see the cup winners from the top 16 European countries fighting for four places in the lucrative group phase, arguing that it devalues the competition. They might, of course, react rather differently if they were not such shoe-ins for the Champions League. Heaven forbid, smaller clubs getting a chance to play against the top team! What will Arsenal be thinking of next? How about not playing against Bolton or Wigan because they don’t play the beautiful passing game?
Staying in N5, Juventus are favourites to sign Arsenal star Gilberto after the Brazil skipperâ€™s row with boss Arsene Wenger (Daily Star), Gilberto apparently told Wenger he didnâ€™t want to play as an emergency centre-half any more. Having lost his midfield slot to Mathieu Flamini and the captaincy to William Gallas, Gilberto is looking for big clubs in Europe.
And it won’t come as a surprise to Gunners fans that keeper Jens Lehmann, who has not played for nearly three months, has now accepted that Manuel Almunia is a permanent fixture between the sticks. Would Gooners be upset to see the German custodian leave? I think not.
Manchester City are looking to land Brazilian striker Afonso Alves (The Independent). Representatives of City’s owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, met officials from Heerenveen in Amsterdam on Wednesday and and an Â£8.3m bid was on the table. City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has had great VFM from Brazilian Elano but he will be facing competition from Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth. Take note Premier League defences, Alves hit 35 goals in 31 games last season – and last month he scored seven times in a league match. But if the big four are not bothered, you can be sure he is not that good. That’s the way these things work.
West Ham boss Alan Curbishley has reacted to suggestions that the club’s injury crisis is largely self-inflicted (Daily Mail). The manager has been criticised for buying players with suspect injury records during the summer, such as Kieron Dyer and Freddie Ljungberg.
Dyer has been sidelined since the end of August, while Ljungberg has played only six games this season. And after the Carling Cup win over Coventry, the Hammers had 12 senior players on their casualty list.
â€œMost of the injuries have been impact and there is nothing you can do about that,â€ said the manager. â€œConsidering all the problems we’ve had, the players who have been fit deserve a lot of credit because some of them, at times, have been forced to play in unfamiliar positions.”
Curbishley is on a hiding to nothing here. Unless Mr Biscuit Man gives him the money to buy seriously good players (excuse the analogy), then he’s going to be constrained. Still, there’s the sure prospect of three points over the weekend with the visit of Gary Nutmegson’s Bolton.
Roy Keane has come up with a revvo-lutionary idea to get his Sunderland players back on track, by sending them on a go-kart racing challenge (The Mirror). Keane said: “It’s good competition. There’s a few quid involved and I know they were desperate to win with there being money on the table!
”The people who went wanted to win and I like that sort of competition. It’s not just like going to the pub to get p****d.” Now what would Keano know about that particular activity?
There’s trouble at the Chelsea mill with rumblings about complaints about Henk ten Cate (The Times). It is understood that the new assistant coach’s methods are not popular with some members of the squad.
According to the paper, players have complained about his arrogance and it is also understood that Steve Clarke, Avram Grantâ€™s other assistant, has begun to feel marginalised. The former Chelsea defender is unlikely to stay for ever as he has managerial ambitions of his own.
I’ll tell you what, if I was on Â£100k-plus a week, I’d be happy for Charles Manson to take training, as long as I was given enough time to lose it all in the betting shop afterwards.