On the move

Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed he will leave Malaga at the end of the season.

The Chilean coach has been linked with the vacancy left by Roberto Mancini at Manchester City this summer and has now admitted he will not be at Malaga next season.

According to Spanish newspaper website Marca.com, he said: “My coaching staff and I are separating from Malaga but our union with this city will be eternal.

“I’m going for sporting reasons.”

Isn’t that what they all say.

Pellegrini, who a fortnight ago was tipped to replace Mancini a fortnight ago, denied at the time that a deal had been done.

“I deny here and now being the new coach of Manchester City, I haven’t signed any agreement with anybody,” Pellegrini said on his club’s official website at the time.

“I’ve been fortunate enough, and very proud, that every year the big clubs have shown an interest in me.

“I have an agreement with Malaga not to talk to anyone and nothing has been agreed with any other club.

“I hope in the coming weeks that things will become a little clearer about what is going to be the future here at this club.”

Suspended sentence

Pellegrini’s Malaga have had a second “suspended” one-year ban from European competition overturned, UEFA said on Wednesday, although the Spanish club still face exclusion from next season’s Europa League should they qualify.

The club, who reached the quarter-finals of this season’s Champions League, are banned from the next European competition they qualify for over the next four seasons due to delays in payments to creditors – a sanction they are appealing against to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The punishment, imposed on the Qatar-owned club in December, also threatened Malaga with an additional year ban from Europe unless they proved by March that they had settled outstanding payments to other teams, staff and tax authorities.

UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) said that Malaga had “fulfilled the conditions” imposed and that the second ‘conditional’ year of their punishment would not now apply.

On Wednesday, UEFA’s CFCB said Romania’s Rapid Bucharest had not met the conditions imposed on them and would be excluded from competing in the next UEFA competition they qualified for in the next three seasons. They were also fined 100,000 euros.

UEFA said Ukraine’s Arsenal Kiev had also failed to meet conditions and were fined a total of 75,000 euros.

Conditional European bans imposed on Hadjuk Split (Croatia), NK Osijek (Croatia), Dynamo Bucharest (Romania) and FK Partizan (Serbia), would not apply, UEFA said.

Malaga’s punishment was seen as evidence that UEFA was serious about enforcing its Financial Fair Play rules that are being brought in to encourage clubs to live within their means.

UEFA’s rules mean that all clubs will ultimately have to move towards balancing their books or face exclusion from European competition. Although, as the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have shown, the rules are there to be bent if not broken.

Going, going Goetze

Borussia Dortmund have suffered a blow ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final with the news that midfielder Mario Goetze will miss the al-Bundesliga showdown against Bayern Munich due to a thigh muscle injury.

The 20-year-old German international, who will join Bayern next season, was injured in the second leg of the semi-final against Real Madrid on April 30 and had been battling to get fit for the final at Wembley.

“That final was my goal, I’ve struggled hard to be fit in recent weeks and I am incredibly sorry for not being able to help the team in this important game,” Goetze said on the Dortmund website.

“I will of course travel to London to support the guys.”

But which guys? The news ones or the old ones?

Tensions rising

As Saturday’s finals draws ever closer the tensions between the two clubs are becoming more evident. On Tuesday, we heard Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp depict opponents Bayern Munich as ‘villains from James Bond films’.

Now, the Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer says he is entitled to his opinions.

“We have freedom of speech in Germany,” he told TZ. “When Jurgen Klopp thinks they have to send out pictures to the world, then he has to answer for that. But we do not always feel [the need] to address that.”

Klopp had previously “bet his backside” that Bayern would enlist the help of Pep Guardiola in the Champions League semi final against Barcelona and Sammer joked that he was eager for the 45-year-old to pay up.

“He bet his rump, but where is it?” he asked. “We have not spoken to Pep about Barcelona, even indirectly. Where is it then?”

It’s not exactly an old school war of words but, as Sammer represented Borussia Dortmund as a player, winning the Champions League with them in 1997, perhaps a residual affection for his former club endures.

Match fixing latest

Claims of match-fixing in a Malaysian league fixture will be investigated by the country’s Football Association (FAM) and sports minister.

The second division Malaysian Premier League match between Kuala Lumpur and Sime Darby was under suspicion, The Star reported.

The paper said banners were seen at the Cheras Stadium with the message ‘Bookie detected’. Sime Darby won the match 5-0.

“We have to look into this allegation of match-fixing seriously,” FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah told reporters.

“We will discuss it with the sports minister on Thursday.”

The police will also attend the meeting along with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the paper added.

Given the history of match fixing in the country, it’s difficult to ascertain whether the latest allegations are even newsworthy. ‘Malaysia not involved in match fixing'; now would be a headline worth reporting.

Ahmad Shah said that Malaysia-based players, on much lower salaries than their European counterparts, needed police protection to avoid match-fixing circles.

“The police need keep a close eye regarding the threats. The players must not get close to the bookies. Once you open up, you will have to face the consequences,” he said.

Goal of the day

The finish from ABC Natal’s Rodrigo Santos was neat, but it was the backheeled assist which elevated this goal above the ordinary.

Quote of the day

“We’ll see, there is a lot going on. At other times when I have said I should stay, I changed clubs, so I dare not say anything.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains non-committal about his future at French champions Paris Saint-Germain. Quelle surprise as they would say in the French capital.

Value for money

The end of the Premier League seasons provides an opportunity for reflection. Manchester United may have won the league title, but were they the best club when it came to providing value for money for their supporters?

Apparently not. It was their neighbours Manchester City, that were crowned the best value football club, according to research from shopping site VoucherCodes.co.uk.

VoucherCodes.co.uk’s annual Football Value League Table looks at how much season ticket holders paid for each goal and win on home turf in 2012/13*. Despite City sacking manager Mancini last week, the table reveals the Italian coach gave fans the most bang for their buck, paying the equivalent of just £32.25 for each home win.

United netted an impressive 45 home goals and won 84 per cent of home games, however this was not enough to beat rivals City in terms of value. City fans will have paid £11.01 per home goal and £32.25 per home win this season compared to Manchester United’s £15.56 and £43.96.

This is the third year in a row City has topped the Value League Table, with home fans paying £23.61 per win in 2011/12 and £24.54 in 2010/11. Everton, West Brom and Newcastle also made it into the top five best value teams with Chelsea falling just behind in sixth place.

At the other end of the table QPR supporters have had the worst deal this season, not only has their team’s poor performance overall led to relegation but having won just two of their home games their fans will have paid a massive £337.90 per home win which works out at £51.98 for each home goal.

Click on the image below to see how each Premier League club performed last season.

* Cost per win/goal calculated on the price of a season ticket, home shirt, scarf and also a pie and pint at each home game.

Our survey says…

Today’s Independent has produced a survey detailing which country’s players have been the most successful in the recently completed English season.

This season, close to 300 foreign footballers from 68 different countries played for one of the 20 Premier League teams.

Somewhat surprisingly, it is not one of the traditional heavyweights of world football that tops the list, but Serbia, thanks to the achievements of Nemanja Vidic, Branislav Ivanovic and Manchester City duo Aleksandar Kolarov and Matija Nastasic.

The small sample size may give Serbia a false position which makes the superb consistency of the Brazilian and Spanish players all the more impressive. The Brazilian contingent, including Manchester United pair Anderson and Rafael, and Chelsea’s trio of David Luiz, Oscar and Ramires, placed the country behind Serbia.

Other countries punching at or above their weight are Germany, Italy, Ivory Coast, Belgium and Spain. While, at the other end of the scale, the presence of Malian players and in particular those from Ireland, pushed their clubs close to the relegation zone.

The table below ranks each nationality by the average Premier League final position of their players. With a minimum of four players from each country, this is the 2012/13 season table ranked by national performance.

Country Number of Players Average Premier League Position
Serbia

4

2

Brazil

14

6.64

Germany

8

7

Italy

4

7.25

Ivory Coast

7

7.71

Belgium

12

7.83

Spain

25

8.4

Nigeria

6

9.17

Netherlands

13

10.38

USA

8

10.63

France

30

10.73

Argentina

10

10.90

Portugal

6

11.17

Sweden

4

11.25

Cameroon

4

12

Morocco

4

13

Senegal

5

13.2

Australia

5

13.60

Republic of Ireland

26

13.65

Mali

4

15.25

Saving face

Under normal circumstances, persuading someone to spend £15 million on Andy Carroll does seem a decent piece of business; that is, unless you happen to have paid £35 million for him not so long ago.

Liverpool have accepted a £15m offer from West Ham for  the towering striker, a £20m loss on their record signing. They now face a struggle trying to persuade the player, who spent last season on loan with the London club, to make the move permanent.

One reason for Carroll’s reluctance to commit, his his desire to return to his native north-east, but the news that his former club Newcastle are are not interested in re-signing him, appears to scupper that wish.

Carroll, coincidentally, has been forced to pull of the England squad for the forthcoming games against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil with injury; an injury that could keep him out of action for 4 months.

As befits a top class professional athlete on the top of his game, a tired and emotional Carroll was last spotted at 3am consuming indeterminate junk at a fast food place.