Moyes of the same?

As Sir Alex Ferguson rode off into the sunset after revealing he was stepping down as Manchester United manager, attention immediately switched to the identity of his successor.

Straight away the decision appeared to be between Everton’s David Moyes, rarely in the frame when the big jobs come around, and Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho, who is known to have coveted the role for a number of years.

Moyes, who has no silverware to show for 11 solid but unspectacular years at Goodison Park, or Mourinho, who is scarcely able to tip waiting staff without reminding them of his bulging trophy cabinet. If winning trophies was the the sole criterion for choosing the next United boss then Mourinho would clearly be a shoo-in. Seven league titles in four countries in 11 seasons and not forgetting two European Cups, which is as many as Ferguson won in 26 seasons at Old Trafford,

But, if the bookmakers are to be believed, and it’s a foolish man who ignores their advice, then United are leaning towards appointing the relatively unheralded Moyes. The Scot is hewn from similar Glasgow stock as Ferguson, though without the abrasive and testy competitiveness that characterises and possibly explains Ferguson’s enduring success.

The appeal of Moyes is that he should ensure a smooth transition, who would neither frighten the horses nor perturb the shareholders. Moreover, as someone steeped in British football culture, he would require no schooling in the United ethos, nor in the legacy bequeathed by Ferguson. He would indeed be a safe pair of hands.

Mourinho, meanwhile, appears to have alienated many potential employers with his perpetual need for conflict. Yes, he brings with him a guarantee of success – or the closest thing to it – but he also brings with him a lot of baggage, much of it toxic and all of it personal. Even the gracious way he handled victory over United in this season’s Champions League, appeared nothing more than an attempt to ingratiate himself with potential future employers.

It may well be that Mourinho’s antics have caught up with him, or it may be that United, after an unprecedented period of success, have decided not to rock the boat.

International reaction

As British football digests the news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager of Manchester United, a quick look at the reaction to the news from around the world, gives an indication as to the esteem in which the 71-year-old is held.

UEFA president Michel Platini hailed Ferguson as “a true visionary”.

Platini said: “Sir Alex has made a massive contribution to football, not only in Scotland and in England, but across Europe and beyond.

“His dedication, his attention to detail and his unique eye for talent, as both the manager of Manchester United FC and Aberdeen FC, has brought rich rewards over a 30-year period.

“His CV is almost unique in a results-based profession that normally focuses on short-term solutions rather than long-term vision.

“He is a true visionary and I hope that, having helped us in the past through various coaching initiatives, he will continue to collaborate with UEFA to share his fantastic knowledge with the next generation of up-and-coming European coaches who all wish to emulate his achievements in the sport.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter joined in the tributes.

“His achievements in the game place him without doubt as one of the ‘greats’.

“It was an honour to present Sir Alex with award at 2011 Ballon D’Or. Will his longevity at the top ever be repeated?”

In Italy, the Gazzetta dello Sport website wrote: “Ferguson-United, the end of a reign. Now it is official, he will leave at the end of the season.”

The Corriere dello Sport: “United, Ferguson retires!”

While Tuttosport went with: “Sir FinalAlex”.

In Spain, AS wrote: “Sir Alex Ferguson retires; Mou and Moyes emerge as replacements,” whilst Marca led with “Ferguson retires – He will leave the Manchester United bench after 26 seasons and 38 titles.”

Sport ran with: “Ferguson retires and leaves Manchester United – The most successful Coach in the history of English football and at Manchester United has made the decision official on Wednesday morning.”

Talksport carry a number of front covers showing the global reaction to Ferguson’s retirement.

Leonardo suspended

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has maintained his innocence after being provisionally suspended by the French Football League’s (LFP) Disciplinary Commission for allegedly barging into referee Alexandre Castro.

Leonardo’s suspension follows an incident after PSG’s 1-1 draw with Valenciennes at the Parc des Princes last weekend.

Canal+ pictures appear to show the Brazilian crashing into Castro as the referee made his way to the dressing room. Leonardo claimed he was accidentally sent careering into Castro by one of the match delegates.

“I’m sure that when they hear what I have to say and watch the pictures that come from the closed-circuit cameras in the Parc des Princes, which are different from the ones sent to them, the commission will see that the delegate blocks my path, and will understand what happened,” Leonardo is quoted as saying in Le Parisien.

Make your own mind up.

Should the commission find Leonardo guilty, he risks seeing his suspension extended up to a year, while PSG could also be docked points.

Vote of confidence

Franz Beckenbauer believes Bayern Munich’s decision to reject the resignation of club president Uli Hoeness represents a resounding vote-of-confidence for the official.

The 61-year-old’s offer to stand down is believed to be linked to Hoeness being investigated for tax evasion, an admission which has prompted a number of the club’s sponsors to initiate private investigations.

However, chief executives at Audi, Adidas and Volkswagen all have a seat on the club’s supervisory board and all agreed to back Hoeness.

Beckenbauer believes the decision to deny Hoeness’ request is an indication of the support the former player has at the club.

“It speaks volumes for Uli that the board has rejected his offer. It is a great vote of confidence and I really hope he emerges unscathed from his tax affair,” Beckenbauer told Image.

World Cup worries

FIFA again expressed its concern with Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 World Cup after local organizers said they are struggling to meet the deadline for the stadium that will host the tournament’s opening game in Sao Paulo.

The venue is not expected to be fully ready by December as FIFA demands, and local organizers said they are “looking for solutions” to speed up construction and finish the work on time.

“The technical teams of FIFA and the local organizing committee have reinforced the tight monitoring on all remaining six FIFA World Cup stadiums not only limited to Sao Paulo,” football’s governing body said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

“FIFA is for sure concerned as it is vital that the firm deadline of December 2013 will be kept.”

The main concern in Sao Paulo is the temporary seats which will have to be added to increase the stadium’s capacity for the opener in 2014. Twenty thousand seats will be added after the stadium’s main structure is ready, increasing the capacity to nearly 70,000.

Construction company Odebrecht, told the AP that it will complete the main structure with 48,000 seats by the December deadline, but chief engineer Frederico Barbosa told the UOL website on Monday that it will likely take more time to add the temporary structures, which could be ready only by February or March.

The stadium will host six World Cup matches, including the opener and one of the semi-finals.

“The host cities, the federal government and stadium owners have committed to this delivery date and acknowledged that for the FIFA World Cup no comprises can be made on this not to jeopardize the successful staging of football’s flagship event,” FIFA said. “Something which is not only crucial for FIFA, but for the entire host nation.”

Only two of the six Confederations Cup venues were completed on time, and the home of the June 15 opener in Brasilia is yet to be completed.

FIFA continues to issue threats to Brazil in a bid to ensure that the work is completed. But in reality, what, other than pray, can they do? It is inconceivable they will take the tournament away from the country at this late stage, meaning the hosts hold all the cards.

Football’s governing body said last month that “delays like the ones observed will not be tolerated for the stadiums that will host” World Cup matches. It said “the flexibility observed in the deadlines for the FIFA Confederations Cup will not be the same for the FIFA World Cup, when no exception will be made.”

We shall see.

Quote of the day

“The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time.”

The opening paragraph of the statement that announced the retirement Sir Alex Ferguson, Britain’s most successful manager.

Dive of the day

Shameful piece of simulation by Roma’s so-called hard man Daniele De Rossi. What was he thinking?

In the clear

FIFA has announced that it will not take disciplinary measures against the Football Association over alleged racist chants directed toward Rio Ferdinand and his brother, Anton Ferdinand, during  England’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino in March.

The Manchester United defender was criticised after he pulled out of the national squad shortly before the clash and incurred the wrath of England supporters during the match itself, with chants calling for him and his brother to be burnt on a bonfire allegedly heard amongst the travelling support.

That Anton – who was involved in a protracted racism spat with former England captain John Terry last season – was also a target of abuse raised suspicions over the potentially racist nature of the chanting but FIFA has dismissed the allegations.

However, FIFA say that a lack of evidence has hampered their case.
“We can confirm that in the case of alleged racist chanting during the recent World Cup qualifier San Marino vs England, it has been decided not to open disciplinary proceedings due to the lack of concluding evidence,” a statement read.
“The FA’s attention was however drawn on the pertinent provisions of the FIFA regulations and they were requested to display prudence and adopt appropriate preventive measures in order to avoid that incidents of such nature do occur in the future.”

Political football

After pussyfooting around the subject since his appointment as Sunderland boss in March, Paolo Di Canio has finally spoken openly about his political views - claiming he is right wing but not a fascist.

Former Labour MP David Milliband resigned from the Sunderland board in protest at the Italian’s appointment and Di Canio was forced to issue a statement on the club website clarifying his political views.

“I am not a racist and I do not support the ideology of fascism,” he said. “I respect everyone.”

And in an interview in today’s Gazzetta dello Sport, Di Canio claimed the controversy has been “manipulated”.

The Sunderland manager said: “Controversy? I am still surprised. In 2011, when I was appointed by Swindon there was a bit of controversy but then everything settled down. I have never shared the drift of fascism. I thought certain remarks [after his appointment] were excessive and it exploded into a political event.

“This affair has been manipulated. Fascist? I have never shared the drift of fascism. I supported the policies of two decades but I distanced myself from the racial laws onwards. I am a man of the right, not a racist.”

So, there you have it. We’ll just have to ignore the Mussolini tattoo on his back, the infamous goal celebration and his response when charged over that incident, which included the line: “If we are in the hands of the Jewish community, it’s the end.”

Finally…

Brazilian youth national team player Michael has tested positive for cocaine, and has been removed from the Toulon Tournament squad.

Michael, 20, admitted using the drug before a Rio de Janeiro State Championship game on April 6, as Fluminense revealed yesterday.

Michael is the third high profile player to fail a drug test in the state of Rio de Janeiro in the last month, following the cases of Brazil-born former Portugal international Deco and Vasco’s midfielder Carlos Alberto.

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