Russian roulette

The Russian Football Union (RFU) has announced its shortlist of candidates as it looks for a successor to national team coach, Dick Advocaat, who stepped down following their exit at Euro 2012.

It’s a stretch to call it a short list as it’s an extensive who’s who of managers, many of whom are out of work, though some are currently in gainful employment. Indeed, there’s a suspicion that the RFU has simply produced a list of all the managers they had heard of who hadn’t already managed Russia. You think I’m joking, well consider the following names:  Rafael Benitez, Pep Guardiola, Fabio Capello,  Marcelo Lippi, Marcelo Bielsa and Harry Redknapp. Yes, you read that right: Harry Redknapp!

Redknapp’s willingness to give up the easy life of Sandbanks must be in some doubt, but when you consider that the RFU is considering paying €6 million a year, I wouldn’t rule it out. At least not until I’d checked out commuting times between Dorset and Moscow..

The full list comprises: Rafael Benitez, Anatoliy Byshovets, Marcelo Bielsa, Valery Gazzaev, Pep Guardiola, Fabio Capello, Andrey Kobelev, Yuri Krasnozhan, Marcelo Lippi, Valery Nepomniaschy, Nikolai Pisarev, Harry Redknapp and Yuri Semin.

Court case latest

Lawyers acting on behalf of John Terry have asked for the the racial abuse case against the former England football captain to be dismissed from court, calling it “weak and tenuous.”

The Chelsea captain is accused of using a racist slur against Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand during a match between on October 23 last year.

The 31-year-old’s lawyer George Carter-Stephenson applied to judge Howard Riddle to dismiss the case, saying Ferdinand was an unreliable witness.

The case was “so weak and tenuous it does not warrant it going any further,” he said.

Terry has denied the charge and denied the suggestion that he was a racist.

“I have been called a lot of things in my football career, and off the pitch, but being called a racist I am not prepared to take,” Terry told the court.

Defending his character to police, Terry highlighted his work helping to integrate a ”multicultural group of players” at Chelsea and his support for the charity work of black former teammates Marcel Desailly and Didier Drogba.

”My commitment to the projects demonstrates I’m not racist,” Terry told police.

Some of his best friends are black…

Goal of the day

Spain, surprise surprise, are through to the semi finals of the European Under-19 championships. A 2-0 win over Estonia ensured their passage to the past four, with Francisco Alcacer scoring a most uncharacteristically Spanish goal by lashing home from outside the box.

Quote of the day

“We haven’t made Chamakh an offer.

 He earns over three million a year.”

Director Daniele Prade explains why Arsenal’s Marouane Chamakh is not a target for Fiorentina. The Serie A club being priced out of the market for a fringe Premier League player, does indicate the growing gulf in financial clout between the respective leagues.

Amnesty international

A two-match ban given to Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho for poking Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye has been lifted as part of a general amnesty, the Spanish football federation (RFEF) has confirmed.

The ban, applicable only in the Super Cup, was overturned by RFEF president Angel Maria Villar, who traditionally exonerates some players and coaches after re-election.

Presumably, the amnesty applied to high profile managers, who were in charge of big clubs, who had just won the Spanish League and were therefore guaranteed involvement in the Super Cup.

The ruling meant Vilanova’s one-match ban for reacting to Mourinho’s aggression was also lifted. Which is handy as he is now the head coach at Barcelona.

Both can take their place on the bench when the two sides meet next month in the 2012 Super Cup. If nothing else, their presence on the touchline will certainly raise the profile of the curtain-raiser while simultaneously allow both men to renew old hostilities.

Seconds out…

Please don’t go

Thousands of Boca Juniors fans have turned out across Argentina, waving blue and yellow club flags and pleading with midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme to stay with the Buenos Aires club.

The 34-year-old said he had played his last game for the club after losing the Libertadores Cup final to Corinthians. Amid reports the midfielder is considering a move to Brazil, the fans took to the streets to express their dismay.

The largest demonstration included 5,000 at Boca’s La Bombonera in Buenos Aires, where supporters filled the streets and made their way to the stadium. The supporters were eventually let inside the ground and chants of “Riquelme is Boca, Boca is not going!” echoed around the stands.

Don’t bet on it

UEFA says it has warned Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere after he posted a Twitter message which suggested he broke betting rules during a Champions League match.

The Arsenal midfielder, who was injured for the entire season, wrote last December that teammate Emanuel Frimpong was worth betting on to score the first goal against Olympiakos.

When Frimpong’s shot narrowly missed early in the game, Wilshere wrote that “Frimmy nearly won me some money there!”

Wilshere, almost certainly at the prompting of his lawyer, later insisted that he had only been joking, tweeting: “I didn’t actually bet on the game. I know we’re not allowed to! I was only messing just to be clear.”

A UEFA spokesman said: “The player has been warned for being in breach of the principles of integrity of matches and competitions.

“The disciplinary measure was a warning.”

Man City get their Mancini

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has agreed terms on a new deal that will keep the Italian at Eastlands for another five years.

“Manchester City Football Club today are pleased to announce that a new contract has been agreed with manager Roberto Mancini,” said a club statement.

“The deal, which runs until the summer of 2017, follows the club’s most successful season in more than four decades, which concluded in the most dramatic of circumstances in the team’s thrilling 3-2 win over QPR in May this year.”

The new deal, coming amid reports that Mancini was in Russia’s thoughts as they searched for a new national coach, could be interpreted as a pre-emptive move to deter any further interest from Moscow. It turns out they need not have worried; as mentioned above, just about every manager of working age was on the board they were throwing darts at.

“I am delighted to be able to give all of my efforts to Manchester City for a further five years,” Mancini told City’s official website.

“The opportunity which exists to build on our recent success is enormous. Manchester City is a fantastic football club, from the owner, chairman, board and the executive team, through to the players, staff and fans.

“I am very much looking forward to the challenges and excitement ahead.”

And looking at the almost infinite resources at his disposal, it would be an unusual man who would walk away from such a challenge.

Loan shark

One minute he’s the most expensive British player of all time, the next, he needs a spell on loan to give him a bit of playing time.

Yes, it’s the incredible life of Andy Carroll, £35 million striker, officially England’s Plan B and possibly, under new manager Brendan Rodgers, surplus to requirements at Liverpool.

Asked about the short term prospects for Carroll and whether the striker could be loaned out next season, Rodgers conceded it was a possibility.

“It’s something I would have to look at, I have to be honest,” said the newly-appointed Liverpool boss. .

“Andy’s always going to be linked with clubs, whether he was here or not. He knows exactly where he stands, but I have had no inquiries about him.”

Rodgers said: “There are many things to going on loan. Is it going to be beneficial for the club, that’s the most important thing?

“Sometimes a player going out on loan – in general, not just Andy – can benefit the club in the long term.

“It gets them game experience and they come back a better player, a more confident one. Certainly more so than if they’ve been sitting on the bench for the majority of the season.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I will never let anyone go on loan, then come in here in two weeks and a player’s gone, and you’re saying ‘you said you wouldn’t let them go’.”

Finally…

Mahmud Sarsak, a Palestinian footballer who went on hunger strike for nearly three months while in an Israeli jail, has been freed and returned to the Gaza Strip.

The 25-year-old entered the Palestinian territory in a Red Cross ambulance where he was greeted by hundreds of people, including relatives, who waved Palestinian flags and pictures of other prisoners.

Tens of them surrounded the ambulance chanting “Victory, victory!” and “Freedom for the prisoners!”

Sarsak was taken immediately to Gaza City’s Shifa hospital, where he is expected to undergo tests before returning to his home in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Sarsak went on hunger strike for nearly three months in protest against his detention without charge under Israel’s “unlawful combatants” law.

But on June 18, his lawyer announced that he had reached an agreement with Israel’s prison services to end his hunger strike in exchange for his release on July 10.

Sarsak was arrested in July 2009 as he was on his way from Gaza to sign on with a West Bank football team.

His protest attracted international attention, with world FIFA and Amnesty International expressing concern over his ongoing detention.

Israeli officials called Sarsak an “Islamic Jihad terrorist who planned attacks and bombings,” but never made public any charges or evidence against him.

 

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