Klopp denies reports

Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has reacted angrily to claims that he leaked information to the press about Jose Mourinho returning to England next season.

According to Bild, the 45-year-old coach claimed Mourinho would quit Real Madrid this summer and return to his former club Chelsea.

However, Klopp has dismissed the reports, claiming that Mourinho is a friend whose trust he would not betray.

“It is an absolutely ridiculous story,” he told reporters. “I never told anyone that Mourinho is going to Chelsea or another club. I’m not a person who does things like that.

“I heard this story before our game with Fortuna and I have to admit I was very sad and angry because it is completely false.

“It is a made up story. Mourinho is a colleague and a friend and I would never mess around in such a manner.”

Naturally, the speculation about his future was a distraction Mourinho could have done without, as he prepares his side to face Dortmund in Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg.

He also denied telling Klopp he was moving to Chelsea at the end of the season.

“The truth is that I did not speak to Klopp about my future, and Klopp can only speak the truth, nothing more,” he said.

“It’s a shame that people read the newspapers and then don’t listen to what Klopp said.”

In what sounded like an early draft of his farewell to Madrid speech, Mourinho reflected on the invidious position of the football coach when things don’t go well.

“In practically all football clubs success belongs to everyone but failure is always the fault of the coach,” the Portuguese said.

“I am perfectly calm because I know that is the situation.

“There are fantastic coaches in football who have never won the Champions League, I have won two, for which I must thank God. But I will continue to fight for a third.”

Boot on the other foot

Chechen linesman Musa Kadyrov has been banned for life after assaulting a player in a match in Russia.

The incident occurred at the end of Sunday’s reserve game in Grozny between Amkar Perm and local side Terek when Kadyrov ran on to the pitch to attack Amkar defender Ilya Krichmar.

“The ref blew the final whistle and I started walking to our bench when suddenly someone came from behind, pushed me to the ground and began kicking and punching me,” the 18-year-old player told reporters.

“Terek players then joined the attack. Someone grabbed me by the throat, another hit me…bloodying my face.

“Thank God, my team mates came to the rescue. Special thanks to Vlasov from Terek. We had known each other from a youth academy in St Petersburg and he helped me escape.”

If Kadyrov acted in haste he will have a plenty of time to repent, as the Chechen authorities quickly banned him for life.

“He has only worked on a regional level but we made a decision to ban him for life, therefore he won’t be able to officiate matches at any level,” Chechen football chief Lom-Ali Ibragimov was quoted as saying.

The Russian players’ union (RSFT) appealed to the Russian FA (RFU) to impose sanctions on Chechen club Terek.

“We feel just banning Kadyrov is not enough. The RFU must take a much tougher stance on this because assaults on players have become an almost regular occurrence in Grozny,” RSFT general secretary Nikolai Grammatikov told Reuters.

“We think preventing Terek to host reserve matches in Grozny for a year should teach Chechen authorities a lesson, otherwise it is just going to get worse and worse.”

Sweet PFA

Gordon Taylor head of the players union in England, has defended the decision to book Reginald D Hunter to perform at the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Awards after the American comedian caused controversy by repeatedly using the word “nigger” during a performance which, it must be said, attracted mixed reviews.

When asked whether it was a mistake to allow Hunter to perform PFA chief executive Taylor replied: “No, no, don’t be silly. Are you serious?

“I think there were a few raised eyebrows over the comedian, but that is the sort of thing you can’t control. It was unfortunate.

“He is a professional comedian.”

However, coming as it did in the wake of several high profile racist incident over the last two years in particular, with John Terry and Luis Suarez both receiving bans for racial abuse, Hunter’s set caused consternation for many people present.

Among them was Taylor’s PFA colleague Clark Carlise, who felt the act inappropriate and embarrassing.

“As the chairman I am embarrassed. I apologise unreservedly and it won’t happen again on my watch.

“I thought that we made a really gross error of judgement in who we selected for our entertainment last night. I was embarrassed.

“All that has gone on in football over the past few years, with everything that we purport to stand for, his set was inappropriate, it really was.

“I am probably going to get hung for it. But I can’t be hypocritical. Everything that I have said and stood for over the past three years, if I sit here and say “It’s in the name of comedy” – rubbish, I am not having that.

“We have made a really, really huge error here and we have got to sort it out. So that we don’t undermine all the work we have done we need to make sure we do something about it.”

In Hunter’s defence as a black American man, the word – his use of which he forewarned the audience in advance  - operates in an entirely different context to the infamous Terry and Suarez incidents. But, given the current climate it would probably have been a sensible idea to have booked someone less likely to ignite the self righteous fury that pervades much of the British newspaper industry.

Goal of the day

Kennedy Igboananike scored with a magnificent overhead kick for AIK against Halmstad.

Quote of the day

“If Real Madrid come back against Borussia Dortmund and make it to the Final of the Champions League, then I will let my girlfriend sleep with all the players.”

Mario Balotelli offers to pimp out his (soon-to-be-ex) girlfriend to the Real Madrid side.

Red mist

Opinion was divided when David Beckham signed for Paris Saint-Germaion: was it a marketing gimmick to boost the club’s profile in the far east, or did the former international still have something to offer on the pitch? One thing everyone is agreed upon is that Beckham was not signed for his tackling prowess.

Proof of this could be found on Sunday, when Beckham, coming on as a late substitute against Evian, lasted just 7 minutes before being sent off for a challenge on Youssef Adnane which was both reckless and potentially dangerous.

Not that PSG sporting director Leonardo saw it that way. For him. Beckham was unlucky, the victim of a poor decision.

“The referee lacked lucidity,” the Brazilian told Le Parisien. “He made mistakes. The red card shown to Beckham, for example, was really unfair.

“It was always a very tense match. Nobody wanted to lose – especially not Evian, who are struggling to stay up.

“I also believe that our team is really tired at the end of the season.”

Make your own mind up here.

Take the money and run

Qatari telecom firm Ooredoo have been linked with a multi-million pound sponsorship deal with Liverpool which could result in the renaming of Anfield.

Liverpool’s current sponsor Standard Chartered has 18 months remaining on their £20 million contract with the Merseyside outfit, and is in talks with Liverpool chiefs to extend the deal.

A period of exclusivity had been agreed with Standard Chartered to broker new deals although Ooredoo has now claimed it has received a tender from Liverpool and the firm is keen to become associated with the Premier League.

All of which confirms that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Regarding the potential deal, a spokesman for Ooredoo told Al Jazeera: ”The goal was to sponsor a big English club with a huge history. Our search included Arsenal and Manchester United but the former two have long sponsorship deals and the same applies to Manchester City so Liverpool is the only club available right now.”

The spokeman added, “We want to sponsor the club in full. We want to sponsor the stadium (possibly rename it) as well as the club’s kits. Our goal is to reach the Asian markets where the Premier League has an enormous fan base.

“We received the tender from the club a few days ago and we are currently in the process of due diligence and we are studying each aspect of the study. It is a dual interest, Liverpool needs the money to compete with the European heavyweights and we want to expand our brand to reach new markets via football.”

It will be interesting to see how Liverpool, and in particular their supporters, react to the idea of renaming Anfield. On the one hand, we are talking about one of the most iconic venues in world sport, whose name is synonymous with the most celebrated traditions of English football fandom; on the other, it’s 23 years since they last won the league and many supporters would happily sell their own family members’ organs for a chance to end that drought.

Principles or pragmatism? My money would be on pragmatism winning this particular battle.

Going, going, gone…

According to Sky Sports, QPR will make an announcement about the future of manager Harry Redknapp in the next 48 hours.

Working on the assumption that the relegated Premier League club would not be staging a press conference to confirm Redknapp staying on, it appears to be the end of one of the most expensive and ill-advised appointments of recent seasons.

Redknapp has been nicknamed Harry Houdini for his ability to conjure up escapes from relegation, although the sobriquet applies equally to his unerring knack of escaping blame whenever anything goes wrong at a former club. This time around, though, and notwithstanding the mess he inherited, it will be hard for him to walk away from the accusation that he spent rashly and with poor judgement when he eventually had the chance to flash the cash in the January transfer window.

Redknapp did his cause no good when reflected on the relegation and highlighted the lack of team spirit in the camp, caused, he claims, by resentment among the lower paid players of the failure of the highly renumerated new arrivals to justify their lavish salaries.

“There are splits in the camp,” said Redknapp. “I’d be liar if I said there wasn’t, it’s been obvious for everyone to see all year. It’s a problem, it’s not easy.”

“People don’t mind others getting good money if they earn it. It’s not a problem if you play at a club with Robin van Persie, Steven Gerrard or someone and you know that he’s getting 140 grand a week and someone else is getting 50 grand, you don’t mind that because you know he’s worth it. But when players look and think ‘he’s not doing any better than me’,” it’s difficult.”

‘Expensive flops’ is the term used to describe such players, though none of the signings will have been more expensive to QPR nor flopped as badly as Redknapp.

Away support

Brommapojkarna midfielder Bojan Djordjic has offered to pay for his team’s entire away support last weekend to attend a home game.

A generous offer you might think, until you realise that when the Stockholm side visited Mjallby on Sunday, there was a solitary Brommapojkarna fan.

“When I saw him, in his shirt, singing and cheering by himself, I decided I had to do something. So I’m going to pay for him to travel to a game of his choice and he’ll get to meet the lads,” Djordjic told Reuters.

The fan in question, Ander Ung, used to coach one of Brommapojkarna’s junior sides, before moving 660 kilometers from Stockholm to Ystad in southern Sweden 20 years ago. He has not been to a home game since.

“You have to lift up people like that,” Djordjic said. “I got his number last night and called him from our bus – the warmth and the joy in his voice was unbelievable. He deserves this.”

Finally…

Forty eight hours ahead of their Champions League semi final second leg in Camp Nou, Bayern Munich’s players have been warned to expect Barcelona to try every trick in the book as they seek to overturn the 4-0 first leg deficit.

The German side’s honorary Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer believes that the Spanish side will not give up the tie lightly.

“Barca will try everything to throw Bayern off balance,” he told Bild. “They will deploy all methods, anything that’s allowed and anything that’s forbidden. They will defend themselves because their pride has been hurt.

“Barca will try to take Bayern’s eyes off their game plan with one-on-one duels. The Bayern players should not be drawn into personal battles.

“They will not surrender, they will provoke, they will try all the tricks in the book.”.

In other words they will do their utmost to win the game.

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