Luis Enrique leaves Roma

Roma director Franco Baldini has confirmed that head coach Luis Enrique will leave the club at the end of the season after only one year in charge.

Luis Enrique informed his players on Thursday that he will leave the club this summer, and Roma have now admitted that the Spaniard is on his way out.

“We have known for some time that he is leaving. Luis Enrique wanted to inform the players first, though,” Baldini stated to Sky Italia. “We had a long talk with him after the match against Fiorentina, and he then told us of his intention to leave. His work was good. At a certain point it wore him out and he felt the need to stop.

“We believe that he has done a good job and that is why we wanted to give him all the time he needed to make a decision.”

Baldini said the club was committed to a progressive style of play (Luis Enrique’s template was his former club Barcelona) which would continue under the new manager.

“The project hasn’t failed, we want to carry on playing a certain type of football, and from league statistics Roma is the team that has had more possession than any other, and is third behind Juve and Milan for territorial dominance and pass completion,” he added.

Impressive on paper, not so good on grass, would be a succinct summary of Roma under the Spaniard.

Former Roma striker Vincenzo Montella, who coached the club in the second half of last season after Claudio Ranieri’s departure, has been tipped to take Luis Enrique’s place.

Technology debate moves on

With boffins across the world still studying multiple camera angles to determine whether Andy Carroll’s FA Cup final header was over the line, now seems as good a time as any to monitor the progress of goal line technology.

The Hawk-Eye technology, one of two shortlisted by FIFA for further testing, uses multiple camera angles which in turn sends a signal direct to the referee in under a second telling him whether the ball crossed the line or not. The system was demonstrated to FIFA officials at Southampton’s St Mary’s stadium on Thursday.

Hawk-Eye’s managing director, Steve Carter is hopeful that his company’s product will be the one chosen if FIFA decide to introduce the technology to football matches.

“Every stadium is different,” He told Sky Sports.“Anything from three weeks to a couple of months. It’s all stadium specific. We aren’t thinking that far ahead at the moment. Anything is possible.

“If I felt things were being rushed for a specific league, I would be actually urging people to slow down and make sure the technology is right.”

“I suppose a good sporting analogy would be that we are in the semi-finals of the competition at the moment and we just want to concentrate on winning our semi.”

Hawk-Eye is in competition with Danish based GoalRef, with a favoured system to be revealed by FIFA on July 2.

Good deed for the day

The president of San Cristobal de los Angeles, Pedro Albares Iniesta, has revealed that the club has been saved from extinction by a donation of €4,000 from its most famous former player, Raul.

The striker spent three years with his local team before joining Atletico Madrid’s youth academy in 1990 and then later moving on to Real Madrid.

San Cristobal announced a few weeks ago that they needed to raise €4,000 before the end of June in order to keep the club afloat, the former Spain international came to its aid.

“I have been informed that the money has been sent and everything has been settled,” Iniesta told AS on Thursday.

“Raul means everything for this neighborhood. But we ask for one more thing: Let him come here one day so that we can hug him, to talk to him and remember the old days …”

Goal of the day

Facing a 4-1 first leg deficit in their Libertadores Cup last 16 tie with Deportivo Quito, Chilean outfit Universidad de Chile, produced a stunning display to win 6-0 on the night and 7-4 on aggregate. The pick of the goals was Junior Fernades’ second, which involved some neat interplay culminating in a first time curler from the edge of the penalty area.

Quote of the day

“Hopefully something stupid happens to City. On the face of it you expect City to win and so do I. But City have got to win. It’s an enormous challenge for them because the disappointment of losing the game would be unbelievable. It’s untold at this moment in time what effect it could have on them.”

Wishful thinking perhaps. Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson tries to heap the pressure on rivals City, who stand on the cusp of a Premier League title triumph that could signal an historic shift in the balance of power in English football.

Sense of humour bypass

The Guardian has reported upon the fate of an Iranian cartoonist who was sentenced to 25 lashes for drawing a caricature of an MP that was deemed insulting.

The cartoon of the MP Ahmad Lofti Ashtiani shows him dressed as a footballer after he reportedly interfered in decisions about sports in Iran.

The MP complained and a specially convened media law court handed down the punishment.

Jo Glanville, the editor of the campaigning group Index on Censorship, said: “This is a new low for freedom of expression in Iran, making any legitimate comment or criticism of politicians impossible – never mind satirical comment.”

Not everyone was concerned by the sentence though; Esmail Kowsari, a member of the parliamentary committee on national security, and a man whose idea of fun would doubtless involve a prayer mat, said: “[A cartoonist] should be persecuted if the cartoon is not ordinary and ridicules someone … Any crime has its own punishment, including lashing, imprisonment or being fined.”

The depiction of Iranian MP, Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani, that has caused offence

Police look into Bebe deal

It’s taken them a while but the Portuguese police have finally got round to investigating one of the strangest transfers in recent years.

Bebe’s €9m (£7.2m) move from Vitória Guimarães to Manchester United in 2010 raised eyebrows, in part because of the huge sum paid for a relatively unknown player but also, because a sizeable amount of that fee (€3.6m) ended up in the pockets of Jorge Mendes, the agent who brought Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Anderson to Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson said at the time that Bébé was the only player he had signed in his managerial career without having watched him at all first, even on video. United said the striker had been recommended by Carlos Queiroz, coach of the Portugal national team, formerly Ferguson’s assistant at Old Trafford, and the deal was pushed through quickly because of alleged interest from Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho who, coincidentally happens to be a client of Mendes.

Murkier and murkier it becomes, not least when one sees Bebe play. Now without wishing to be too uncharitable to a young player trying to make his way in the game, it is fair to say that 21-year-old is still some way short of the finished product, or the started product for that matter. To value a player of virtually no professional experience and no discernible talent at €9million, does invite suspicion.

Bale out

Harry Redknapp has been swift to deny reports claiming that Gareth Bale will leave the club this summer to join Barcelona.

Reports in the Spanish press suggest that the the Catalan outfit have a greed a €40 million deal for the highly-coveted Welsh winger and all that remains is for the player to agree personal terms.

Not so fast says Redknapp, who told a press conference on Friday morning: “I don’t know anything about [the story linking Bale with Barcelona].

“I wouldn’t think there is the slightest bit of truth in that. Not a chance, I wouldn’t have thought.

“You can forget about Champions League football in the future if you don’t keep your best players and add to them, never mind selling them off.”

Nesta tribute

In a golden age of attacking football, when not one but two players can score over a half century of goals in one season, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are plenty of skilled performers operating at the other end of the pitch whose job it is to stop them.

Nobody likes a killjoy, but there are certain stoppers who have transformed the mechanics of defending into an art form. One such player is Alessandro Nesta, an elegant, graceful defender who at the age of 36, has decided to quit Serie A.

Offered a new one-year deal with Milan, Nesta demurred, claiming he was no longer up to the rigours of life in the fast lane.

“The high pace of the Italian league, the Champions League and the Italian Cup means that I can’t play all the time. And I’m not one to sit and wait on the bench.”

So, where now for a man who concedes he is past his best? Why, MLS of course.

Asked about a link to the New York Red Bulls, Nesta admitted: “I’d go gladly. It would be a wonderful experience. I’d gladly go across the Atlantic but as long as nothing has been signed I’m saying nothing. And there are other great and interesting opportunities like that one.”

Here’s a video tribute to Nesta.

And here he is earlier this season, snuffing out the danger posed by the modern game’s greatest forward.


Spare a thought today for the victims of the Bradford City stadium fire. Twenty seven years ago today 56 people were killed and 265 were injured when a fire burnt down a stand at the Valley Parade ground.

The fire broke out during a match between Bradford City and Lincoln City on the day that the home side were supposed to have celebrated their winning the Football League Third Division trophy

An enquiry into the causes of the fire and the reasons it spread so rapidly led to the Popplewell report, which prepared the way for the introduction of new legislation to improve safety at the UK’s football grounds.

The disaster, along with the Hillsborough tragedy four years later, were to become instrumental in the introduction of all-seater stadiums in the UK.