MIND GAMES CONTINUE BETWEEN MANCHESTER RIVALS
Patrick Vieira heightened rivalries between the Manchester clubs by claiming United gain an advantage from officials at home games that other clubs don’t experience.
The football development executive at City has previously called the Red Devils “desperate” for bringing Paul Scholes out of retirement in January to become a key part of their championship chasing side.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson responded by, in turn, branding City desperate themselves for bringing the previously unwanted Carlos Tevez back into their side following his strike action.
City trail United by three points, but it could have been just one had Fulham been awarded what many pundits felt was a penalty towards the end of Ferguson’s men’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Monday.
Vieira told BBC Sport: “When United play at home they get some advantage that other teams don’t get.”
United defender Rio Ferdinand has hit out at Vieira on Twitter saying “why is Vieira so concerned with Manchester United?”
In a statement City said Vieira’s comments had been taken out of context.
WENGER PLANNING SUMMER REVOLUTION
Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has often been criticised for his apparent refusal to dip into the transfer market.
With this the Gunners seventh season without a trophy, fans believe changes are needed to keep captain Robin Van Persie at the club and also challenge for silverware next term.
If reports are to be believed, Wenger may finally be about to listen. The Frenchman is said to want to rid from his squad a number of fringe players including Andrei Arshavin, Carlos Vela, Manuel Almunia, Sebastien Squillacci and Marouane Chamakh, among others.
In their place could come Chelsea hotshot Daniel Sturridge, Lille’s wanted playmaker Eden Hazard, Rennes enforcer Yann M’Vila, and perhaps surprisingly Blackburn’s beanpole midfielder Steven N’Zonzi.
McCLAREN IN LINE FOR SHOCK RETURN
Steve McClaren failed miserably when England manager, overseeing the Three Lions failure to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals.
He has since done remarkably at Dutch side FC Twente, leading them to the Eredivisie championship before trying his luck in Germany with Wolfsburg. As with the national side, again he flopped.
Back on English soil, McClaren made a real hash of trying to take Nottingham Forest into the Premier League and was sacked no sooner than the season had started.
But incredibly, McClaren is apparently being lined up for a return to the national set-up with the Football Association keen to re-appoint him, this time in the role of technical director.
Now back with FC Twente, McClaren has distanced himself from the reports, but surely the very fact he has been linked with the role, which is said to be crucial in shaping the future of the English game, is damning on English coaches given his previous record?
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ROUND-UP
As good a 0-0 draw as you will see was played out at the San Siro last night between European heavyweights AC Milan and Barcelona. Both sides had plenty of chances in a game of fast, flowing football and tenacious last-ditch defending.
For the home side, Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic wasted gilt-edged chances, while Lionel Messi, Xavi and Alexis Sanches prodded and probed throughout for the reigning champions, only to come up against some typically stubborn Italian defending.
In the night’s other tie, Bayern Munich are strong favourites to progress into the semi-finals, probably to meet Real Madrid, after a 2-0 win in Marseille. Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben scored for Munich, whose Allianz Arena hosts this year’s final.
ON THE CONTINENT
He didn’t play in the Champions League quarter-final first leg between the sides last night, but Thiago Silva was still on the lips of Milan and Barcelona officials at the San Siro. Milan’s brilliant Brazilian centre-back is a key summer transfer target of Barcelona.
Jose Mourinho’s rift with his goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas shows no signs of abating with the manager reportedly insisting to the board that the Spain international is moved on.
FC Porto are eyeing Real Madrid defender Ricardo Carvalho with the former Chelsea centre-half out of contract in June, and unlikely to be offered new terms.
Terry Venables has made a surprise return to management after a four-and-a-half-year absence with Wembley FC, who finished 14th last season in the Combined Counties League Premier Division.
Chelsea have reportedly made a fresh approach to Gianfranco Zola to join the club’s backroom staff.
Middlesbrough captain Matthew Bates has suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury for the fifth time in his career. He is expected to be out of action for at least six months.
Tags: AC Milan, arsenal, Barcelona, Daniel Sturridge, England, Manchester City, Manchester United, Patrick Vieira, Steve McClaren, Thiago Silva