Although Inter are again the runnaway leaders in Italy, the fans are fondly remembering José Mourinho’s predecessor Roberto Mancini. At the same level of success, he has a far more pleasant personality.
Last summer Mancini was removed from the bench by president Massimo Moratti despite winning seven trophies in four years. Mourinho was brought in order to take Inter to international glory, but the hopes lasted just until the visit to Old Trafford in the Champions League round of 16.
After Mancini and Moratti met last week, the Italian Toto Hk press started to speculate on a new personnel change in Inter’s coaching staff, but the old coach denied his return was among the topics of the conversation.
“Moratti and I met for completely different reasons. I don’t believe Inter currently needs a new coach, although if I were to be recalled I would have to accept since I still have three years’ contract with the club,” explained Mancini, who claims to have forgiven his boss for replacing him for no valid reason.
“I am pround of one thing, of having been the coach who put Inter back on the winning track, and I am grateful to Moratti for having enabled me that.”
A seven-figure annual salary for not doing any work may also have helped Mancini to forget the old grudge.
Rafael Benitez to stay at Anfield for five more years
The most successful Liverpool manager of the past two decades is poised to work at Anfield for further four and a half years. Rafael Benítez has extended his contract untll 2014, ending months of speculation which placed him, among other places, in Real Madrid.
“My heart is with Liverpool Football Club, so I’m delighted to sign this new deal,” said the Spaniard, who took the Reds to their first Champions League in 21 years in his first season at the club in 2005.
Should he complete his contract, Benítez will spend full ten years at Liverpool, in the tradition of other long-standing managers like Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish.
Benítez’s prolonged stay in the most successful English club in history is said to have been enabled by the forthcoming departure of chief executive Rick Parry, with whom the Spaniard fell out over the failure to
close several transfers deemed important by the manager.
In the following four and a half seasons Benítez’s main objective will be bringing the League title back to Liverpool for the first time after 1990, back in the time when the English top flight was called First Division.
FIFA oppose all-year-round doping tests
World football’s governing body FIFA is not happy with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) demand for surprise drug testing at any time, asking for special treatment for soccer players.
FIFA announced it would demand footballers to be exempted at least one day per week and in off-season periods. FIFA also opposes WADA’s proposed rule stating that every athlete should provide his or her whereabouts for every day of the year. According to FIFA, only the location of a team, rather than of individual players, should be given to WADA.
FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter said he was surprised by WADA’s intransigence, calling the new rules “witchhunt” rather than an articulate fight against doping.
UEFA’s boss Michel Platini has joined Blatter in his resistance against the anti-doping lords and other team sports like rugby also defy WADA’s exaggerated requirements.
Italian keeper concede a “physically impossible” goal
The third division game between Juve Stabia and Cavese will forever be remembered in Italy because of an amazing goal taken in by the local keeper Soviero.
The visitors won 1-0 thanks to a goal by Favasulli, even though the left midfielder hardly planned to shoot on goal when he struck the ball from about 35 meters close to the touch-line.
The ball launched by Favasulli took a steep rising trajectory and looked very much as if it was going to end at the terraces behind the ball. The keeper must have thought the same, because he turned his back on what looked like a terrible cross and strolled slowly along the goal-line.
He looked back only when he heard the characteristic sound of the contact between the ball and the net: the ball suddenly plummeted and landed the right lower corner of the goal.
“I most certainly recognize my blunder, but this goal cancelled out all the laws of physics. It was a paranormal goal,” said the goalie for whom the Juve-Cavese game was the first this season. Maybe the last, too.
The footage of the goal can be viewed on YouTube at:
Hiddink might return to Chelsea in less than a year
Guus Hiddink has been doing sensationally ever since he took over Chelsea, but his tenure is not meant to last beyond the last game of season. However, the Dutchman may return to Stamford Bridge within a year, depending on how Russia will fare in the World Cup campaign.
In fact, he will be available to Chelsea as early as late November, should Russia fail to qualify for South Africa. If they do, then Roman Abramovich will have to wait until the end of the World Cup final tournament, but not any further.
“My contract expires at the end of the 2010 World Cup. But we also said that if we don’t qualify and the Russian Federation choose to go in a different direction, then we will talk about how to end the contract sooner,” said the Dutchman.
Another solution for Hiddink would be to agree to coach both Chelsea and Russia for as long as Russia’s World Cup campaign lasts, as he did during the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Leading up to that tournament, the Dutchman parallely managed Australia and PSV Eindhoven. Still, those two jobs appear a bit less demanding in comparison to working in the Premiership plus trying to reach the World Cup through the wilderness of the European qualification zone.
Death threats shock Croatian soccer scene
Although the current championship race between Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split can hardly be more exciting, with both teams level on points, the events off the field have overshadowed anything the players could offer.
The recently sacked Dinamo’s coach Marijan Vlak revealed this week that previous to his dismissal he had received an anonymous phone call from a man telling him he would be assasinated if he did not leave the club.
The experienced striker Tomo Sokota was also called and threatened with assasination in case he stayed at Dinamo.
Both Vlak and Sokota reported the incidents to the police who at the moment have little clue as to the perpetrator, since it is highly unlikely that the threats came from Dinamo fans.
Vlak has coached Dinamo in four spells, mostly with success, and has been very popular with the fans ever since serving as a goalkeeper in a championship-winning squad in the old Yugoslavia.
Sokota on the other hand is one of Dinamo’s top scorers in the last decade and is also held in highest regards by the faithfuls.
Any threat with violence against soccer players and coaches is taken seriously in Croacia because over the past four years several of them were attacked and brutalized by local mobsters, apparently for refusing to participate in illegal betting schemes.
In the said period, a noted soccer agent, Dino Pokrovac, was shot dead by a gunman in Zagreb, Dinamo’s coach Josip Kuze had his car torched in the capital city, while Hajduk’s coach Luka Bonacic was beaten and severely injured by baseball bats wielding thugs in Split.