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Transfer Rumours and Gossip: Aston Villa, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Bolton and more

Sportingo.com’s Phil Smith brings guest coverage of the day’s rumours and gossip.

Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill has ruled himself out of the running, Sir Alex Ferguson reckons it’s now too tough for an Englishman to even consider, Arsenal gaffer Arsene Wenger has flatly refused to consider it (although he reckons he could help out) and Marcello Lippi says he’s no chance because he doesn’t speak English.

So that’s narrowed the field down a bit and taken most of the tricky decision making out of the process for Brian Barwick who, we are reliably informed, will follow Steve McClaren out of the door if he comes up with another dead-ender.

We’re talking about the England job, of course, which takes a whole lot of pressure of Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool fans who take great delight at laughing at all the genuine (?) and fresh (?) transfer rumours we endeavour to bring to their attention every day. This is the business end of the game; we’re trying to find the man who will shape our football destiny and knock us into shape in time for the 2010 World Cup.

And we do have a new favourite. And yes, he’s another foreign gentleman. In fact it seems that there are two runners in the field at the moment, and neither of them are English. And speaking English isn’t a must for the job really, as several Premier League managers have managed to get away with it for years.

As I was saying . . . two in the running, Fabio Capello, installed as 5-2 favourite with most bookies, and Jose Mourinho, at a very tempting 11-2. You’ll also find the names of Alan Shearer, Harry Redknapp and even dear old Sven on the betting lists, but they’ve about the same chance as, err . . . me.

Capello claims that difficult challenges have always fascinated him. Well, management jobs don’t come much tougher than the one now being touted around.

Capello seems to think that Mourinho has ruled himself out of the running, but that’s not the general opinion in most newspaper offices (Various sources). Capello himself has a fairly impressive CV, with spells in charge at AC Milan, Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid, who fired him immediately after he landed the La Liga title for them last season.

But if all else fails, Rafa Benitez has indicated that he might be interested in the job – and after his latest little spat with Liverpool’s American owners, he might be given the chance to apply.

Just one more intriguing little offering before we change the subject. Franz Beckenbauer has thrown the name of former Spurs striker Jurgen Klinsmann into the ring. He reckons he’s the ideal type for the job and he’s got the perfect CV. So take your pick – Capello, Mourinho, Benitez or Klinsmann. Hmmm. Surely someone can put the squeeze on Wenger?

I imagine the majority of England fans are so disillusioned that they don’t give a toss who gets the job after the failure to reach the Euro 2008 finals. They’re probably more interested in the fact that:

Chelsea and Arsenal will probably go head-to-head for Croatia’s outstanding midfield talent Luka Modric, one of the instigators of England’s Wembley defeat on Wednesday night. His Italian agent, Sabatino Durante, has confirmed that the Dinamo Zagreb player wants to move to England in the January transfer window (Trib alfootball.com). Expect the bidding to start at £20m.

Bolton boss Gary Megson is resigned to losing Nicolas Anelka in the January sales and has already lined up Danish international Jon Dahl Tomasson as his replacement, and AC Milan and Juventus are ready to fight it out for the signature of Aston Villa’s dependably solid centre-back Olof Mellberg (Daily Mirror).

Liverpool are looking to improve the goalkeeping cover for Pep Reina and, like several other Premier League clubs, have been mightily impressed by the ever-improving performances of Manchester City’s young Joe Hart (Daily Mail).


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