All bets are off

Several bookmakers have suspended betting on the identity of the next Paris Saint-Germain coach, amid claims that Fabio Capello has agreed to move to the French capital.

The report comes from Sky Sport Italia, who also claim that Capello will fill the vacancy on a temporary basis, because PSG have already lined up Arsene Wenger for 2014-15 when his contract with Arsenal expires.

PSG midfielder Marco Verratti believes Capello would be the perfect replacement should Carlo Ancelotti leave his role this summer.

The current Russia coach has been heavily rumoured to be les Parisiens’ top target, with Real Madrid closing in on convincing the Ligue 1 champions to part with Ancelotti as they look for someone to step into Jose Mourinho’s shoes.

Verratti, who enjoyed a league-winning debut season at Parc des Princes, admits he would be sad to see the current coach depart, but insists that the ex-England and Juventus boss would be a fitting successor

“Capello would be perfect for me. He is a coach who has made history in Italian football,” the 20-year-old told Sky Sport.

“I’d be very happy. But I owe so much to Ancelotti, I will be thankful to him for all my life.”

The Russian Football Federation remain confident that the Italian will resist overtures from the French capital, but once he sees the size of the cheque PSG are offering him, then all bets are off – quite literally!

“Capello has a contract with the Federation,” President NikolaiTolstykh told R-Sport.

“He has repeatedly talked about how happy he is with the Russian national side and that he intends to continue.”

The move for Capello would allow current PSG boss Ancelotti to make the highly-rumoured move to the vacant position at Real Madrid.

Flat track bully

Spain forward Fernando Torres says he intends to give coach Vicente Del Bosque a selection headache if he can get some playing time for the world champions against minnows Tahiti on Thursday.

Torres has found himself relegated to the role of  squad player since Euro 2012.

“I just hope I do get the chance to impress coach Del Bosque so that I can give him a bit of a selection dilemma,” Torres told Onda Cero radio.

“I thought we played really well against Uruguay and I think it is certainly very difficult for any side to play against us.

“We always want to win of course, but we want to do so with style,” said Torres, who is aiming help Spain land a first Confederations title after their shock loss to the United States in the 2009 semi-final.

Fortunately for Torres, there is a good chance that having won their opening game against Uruguay, Del Bosque will rest players for Thursday’s somewhat less demanding fixture. The other good news for him is that Spain face Tahiti, a team that even the misfiring striker would fancy his chances against.

Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta meanwhile said that he hoped his players would have learned something from their six-goal thrashing by Nigeria. Though, even he conceded that his players will need to improve against the World Champions if they are not to be humiliated.

“When you see Spain’s great performance (against Uruguay), you can start getting worried,” he said. “Tactically, we’ll have to play better. And from a physical perspective, we’ll need to compete more strongly in the duels. But we’ll recuperate, analyse our performance tonight and then think of Spain.

“We said that scoring a goal in this tournament would be exceptional, but scoring against Spain would be grandiose.”

Goal of the day

Stunning range effort from by Celso Borges in Costa Rica’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Panama.

Quote of the day

“The demonstrators are fighting for health and education. We need unity. We hope that we can reach a consensus and that the future will be better. Of course, we’re not happy when we see the violence.”

Brazil defender David Luiz expresses support for the protesters in Brazil.

Demo happy

The current demonstrations are the biggest Brazil has witnessed in 20 years and come at a time when the country is desperate to prove it is prepared to host events such as the Confederations Cup and next year’s World Cup.

Chelsea’s David Luiz was not alone in his support for the protesters.

Dani Alves, the Barcelona full-back, also gave his backing to the protesters.

On his Instagram account, he posted a picture of a human eye made to resemble the yellow and green national flag, with the motto “Order and Progress” written across the pupil.

“Order and Progress without violence for a better Brazil, a peaceful Brazil, an educated, healthy, honest and happy Brazil,” he wrote.

Striker Fred wrote on Twitter: “I’m totally in support of the demonstration, as long as it’s democratic and peaceful.

“I’m very proud to watch the people fighting to change the standards of public transport, health, education and so many other problems.”

Hulk was another to endorse the demands of the protesters.

“Today, I have a privileged social position, but I don’t forget that I come from a poor background,” said the striker. “They are right to protest. What they say and what they hope for is in the right direction. We have to listen to what they say.

“Brazil needs to progress in lots of areas and that’s why we support them. We know they’re telling the truth.”

The motives of those opposed to Brazil staging the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics has been articulated perfectly by a recently published video.

Missing the point

Meanwhile, swimming against the tide of public opinion is FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who has urged the protesters not to use football to further their aims.

In an interview with Brazil’s Globo TV network, Blatter says he ”can understand that people are not happy, but they should not use football to make their demands heard. Football is here to build bridges, to generate excitement, to bring hope.

“Brazil asked to host the World Cup. We didn’t force it on them. It’s obvious that stadiums need to be built but that isn’t the only thing in a World Cup: there are highways, hotels, airports and a lot of other items that remain as a legacy.”

It’s been estimated that up to £30 billion will be spent by Brazil on hosting both the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. It is a outlay that many people think the country cannot afford.

But with the newly constructed stadiums the only tangible asset so far, and how the general public will benefit from them remains unclear, protesters made their anger known with poignant placards reading: “Teachers are worth more than (Brazil striker) Neymar” and “We want schools and hospitals, not stadiums”.

And who can blame them.

Out of the frying pan…

Former Italy and Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has been appointed Palermo manager with the task of steering the relegated team straight back to Serie A.

The 35-year-old former Italy international has signed a one-year contract with an option for a two-year extension. The chances of him making it to that extension don’t look good.

 ”Palermo… has entrusted Gennaro Gattuso with the charge of leading the Rosanero’s first team,” Palermo said on their official website (www.palermocalcio.it).

 Gattuso had an unhappy time as Sion player-coach last season.

Sion’s Christian Constantin has employed about 30 managers since taking over the club for a second time in 2002 and sacked five last season including Gattuso after just three months in charge.

In 24 years in charge of Venezia and Palermo, Zamparini has fired coaches on 51 occasions. That is an average of just over two sackings per season. Last season alone he used three different coaches, two of them twice. Zamparini fired Gian Piero Gasperini, replaced him with Alberto Malesani for three games and then brought back Gasperini before sacking him after two matches.

He eventually returned to Sannino, who started the season as manager but was sacked after three matches. Sannino left at the end of the season after failing to save the club from relegation.

You can see why that two-year extension seems a long way off.

Revolving doors

Twenty four hours after he welcomed new director of football, Joe Kinenar to the club, Newcastle United managing director Derek Llambias has resigned.

Kinnear, 66, has taken charge of all football-related matters at the club.

In a statement on Tuesday, Llambias said he was “pleased to welcome Joe back”.

After his resignation he said: “I have had an incredible journey during my five years at the club, including some challenging times.”

Meanwhile Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, who will now report directly to Kinnear, has spoken about his future. He said: “I am staying to take the club up the league.”

Not giving a lot away there Alan.

Llambias, who had worked closely with owner Mike Ashley since he took over the club in 2007, did not give any reasons for his sudden decision to leave St James’ Park.

“I will reflect with great fondness on my time in the north east and, in me, Newcastle United have a lifelong supporter,” he said.

“I want to thank the staff for their hard work, our fans for their support of the club, and wish them all well for the future.”

In an interview with talkSPORT on Sunday, Kinnear said Llambias “was the director of football, he resigned and the role became available”. During the interview, Kinnear mispronounced a number of names, including describing Llambias as “Lambayzee”.

The pantomime really has come early at Newcastle.

Back where it belongs

The FA Cup final has been restored to its traditional place as the last match of the English football season.

In recent years, the Cup final has been played on the same day as the penultimate round of Premier League fixtures, resulting in the competition’s status being undermined.

The English Football Association said that next season’s final will take place at Wembley Stadium on May 17 – a week after the Premier League season has ended.

One other issue that had annoyed die-hards was the FA’s decision to move the the kick off back from it’s traditional 3pm kick off time. The game will now be played at a a time befitting the competition’s current status: 11pm, provided the Wembley facilities team have managed to clear up from the day’s main event, the 2014 UK Tiddlywinks Open.

FA general secretary Alex Horne says ”we’re well aware that fans and media have been calling for the FA Cup final to have a day to itself and we’re delighted that this is going to happen for 2014.”

Wigan won this year’s FA Cup. In case you’d forgotten. Most people had.

Leading by example

After the bad blood that preceded the World Cup qualifier, little wonder that there was an edge to coach Carlos Queiroz post-match celebrations, after his Iran side had defeated South Korea.

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