When a man leaves a football club

Didier Drogba cried when Jose Mourinho left Chelsea, while John Terry and Frank Lampard tried to persuade club officials not to let him leave, according to a new book published in Spain called ‘Mourinho: Secrets of his Success’.

Portuguese defender Paolo Ferreira told the Daily Express: “It is always complicated when a manager leaves a club, but this case was much more so.

“Jose came into the dressing room, gathered us all together and told us he was leaving. Didier was one of the worst affected. He wept like a child.”

Histrionics from Drogba? Well, that shows a side to him we’ve never seen before.

Lampard, who clearly didn’t read the papers or watch the news in those days, was one of the few people in the English-speaking world oblivious to the tensions simmering between Mourinho and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

“I thought Jose would stay for 10 years. Everything was working perfectly,” he said.

“I don’t normally get emotionally involved in these matters. I know managers come and go – that is football. But in this case it was more than a manager who was going – it was a friend who was leaving us behind.”

Man on the verge of a nervous breakdown?

If Andre Villas-Boas learned anything from working alongside Mourinho it was that in times of crisis, when you need to galvanise a group of over-paid, under-performing players, nothing succeeds like a manufactured persecution complex. And so it proved, as Chelsea cruised into the Champions League last 16 with a 3-0 victory over Valencia.

Immediately after the game the Chelsea coach, perhaps betraying signs of the pressure he has been under, unleashed a torrent of pent-up angst upon those who had questioned his methods.

“The players deserve respect they don’t get. We have been continually chased by everybody and maybe today we gave everybody a slap in the face,” Villas-Boas said.

“Some of the criticism is out of this world. There was an ex-Manchester United defender who said he could not play for this Chelsea team. It is unbelievable to me. It is a continuous persecution of Chelsea.

“We have become your target and we accept that, but now you have to accept that today was a brilliant win and now it is unfortunate for you guys because you have to report on a brilliant win for Chelsea qualifying in first place. This must be difficult for you all to do.”

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that he manages one of the wealthiest clubs in the world.

So near and yet…

While Villas-Boas performed cartwheels for helping a billionaire’s plaything sneak into the last 16, spare a thought for Olympiakos boss, Ernesto Valverde, who saw his side’s hopes evaporate over the course of five cruel minutes.

The Greek side did all they could to reach the knockout stages by defeating a weakened Arsenal side 3-1 in Athens. When the third goal went in they were virtually home and dry, but they were undone by an improbable comeback from Marseille who managed to overturn a half-time 2-0 deficit at Borussia Dortmund to emerge as 3-2 winners.

Valverde demonstrating a sense of dignity that many a vanquished manager could learn from, said he was proud of his side’s efforts.

“In general we’re happy with our performances in the group stage, in almost all of our games,” he said. “It’s a pity that we didn’t qualify for the UEFA Champions League knockout stage, but we’re through to another competition, the UEFA Europa League, and we will do our best there.

“I know that my players are sad tonight, but I told them that I’m really proud of them and their effort against Arsenal and urged them to put their disappointment behind them.”

Back to the future for FIFA

Mark Plieth, the anti-corruption expert FIFA appointed to advise Sepp Blatter on cleaning up world football’s governing body, says he will examine previous allegations of wrongdoing. This is going to cost FIFA a fortune in overtime.

The professor says his Independent Governance Committee has “absolutely no objection to an investigation.”

Former consultants Transparency International left Blatter’s reform process last week, claiming Pieth could not be truly independent as he was being paid for his work by FIFA.

The anti-corruption watchdog also criticised FIFA because of its failure to investigate past scandals.

Pieth says he will meet soon with investigative journalists who are “experts on FIFA’s past.”

FBI investigates World Cup bidding process

Plieth’s committee is not the only group investigating shady goings-on at FIFA; the FBI have interviewed members of England’s failed 2018 World Cup bid as part of an investigation into alleged corruption

The interviews form part of an FBI inquiry into allegations arising from the World Cup bidding process a year ago, and the FIFA presidential election in June.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the FBI has “substantial evidence” of outside organisations attempting to hack the email accounts of the United States bid for the 2022 tournament, and believe the English bid may have also been affected.

The FBI’s interest in the World Cup election is thought to be linked to an ongoing investigation into payments made to Chuck Blazer, the FIFA executive committee member who first revealed the bribery allegations against Bin Hammam and Warner.

The net, it would appear, is beginning to close in.

FIFA unwelcome in England

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has admitted that his organisation does not always feel welcome in England. Given the antipathy between the two over the past year, that can’t come as much of a surprise to him.

Discussing FIFA’s desire to take the FIFA Ballon d’Or awards ceremony away from Zurich, Valcke said: “We’d need to discuss between ourselves whether it’s Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, London – London, I don’t know – Paris, Barcelona, Madrid or other European cities.”

Asked why he hesitated when mentioning London, Valcke said that it was because all the candidates played in Spain.

“It was because all the winners and the names on the list come from Spain, so it was to say that it would make sense that if we wanted to recognise that, we could go to Spain,” he told AFP.

“Are we not welcome in England? I don’t know. If I read the media every day, it’s true that, personally, my feeling is a bit that – but that’s my own feeling.”

Asked if FIFA were worried about England feeling alienated by FIFA, he responded: “No, it’s fine. It’s the freedom of the world.

“We’re in a democratic world so everyone is free to say whatever they want… they’re still a member of FIFA, no? There is no problem.”

Fighting for the cause

Three points above the relegation zone, Wolfsburg are not enjoying the best of seasons, but at least the players are showing plenty of fight. Unfortunately, it’s on the training ground and it’s against each other. Team-mates Josue and Ja-Cheol Koo were caught on camera exchanging blows.

It’s not exactly the Thrilla in Manilla, but then again, what is.

Arsenal honour past greats

Arsenal will unveil statues of legendary former coach Herbert Chapman, ex-skipper Tony Adams and former French wizard Thierry Henry to mark the club’s 125th anniversary this weekend, media reports said Wednesday.

Chapman, who led the club to their first league titles in 1931 and 1933, Adams, who captained Arsenal to five league titles and Henry, the club’s record goalscorer with 226, will all be honoured in stone.

Presumably, the statue honouring George Graham didn’t come up to scratch.

Quaking in their boots

The start of the Club World Cup is only a matter of hours away, although interest in the competition will remain low key until the arrival of European champions Barcelona and their South American counterparts Santos.

Nonetheless, the cannon fodder, in the shape of New Zealand’s Auckland City and Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol have arrived.

Ramon Tribulietx, coach of Auckland, said his team felt “solidarity” with their Japanese opponents after both sides’ countries were rocked by earthquake disasters this year.

“Both countries suffered terrible disasters and I’m sure the two teams will want to put on an entertaining game,” said Tribulietx.

“I hope that after these tough times the connection between Auckland City and the people of Japan is positive and we share this feeling of solidarity and mutual respect,” the Spaniard told FIFA.com.

FIFA has certainly been blowing its own trumpet regarding it’s involvement in the post-earthquke relief fund for Japan.

“FIFA is assisting with six projects in different venues, and donating $6 million,” said Club World Cup organising committee boss Chuck Blazer.

“The fact we indicated earlier this year that we would be going ahead with the tournament here was crucial in showing support for Japan and local football here.”

Goal of the day

There could only be one contender for the goal of the day: Matthieu Valbuena’s 87th minute winner for Marseille that completed a stunning turnaround for the French side against Borussia Dortmund.