Monday, 6 February 2012

Premier League - Paper Round: Abramovich grills AVB


Andre Villas-Boas's position looks ever more precarious after Roman Abramovich reportedly decided to intervene personally in Chelsea's on-pitch matters this weekend.
The Daily Mail reports that the Russian oil billionaire turned up without warning to watch training for 35 minutes on Saturday morning, and then quizzed Villas-Boas for half an hour about the tactics he was to employ for the Manchester United match on Sunday.
Abramovich apparently also entered the Chelsea changing room after the Blues let a 3-0 lead slip on Sunday to talk to the players for half an hour. "Villas-Boas is understood to have been shaken by the visit," the paper adds.
Speaking of managers at loggerheads with their paymasters, it's no surprise that most of Monday's back pages - and several of the front pages - lead with Fabio Capello openly criticising the FA's decision to sack John Terry as England skipper.
You can read the full story elsewhere on this website, but if you just don't know what to think about the whole sorry saga you're not alone: Fleet Street's hacks are also struggling to make sense of what's been going on. The Guardian's Dominic Fifield criticises Capello for fatally undermining the national side's Euro 2012 preparations, while Steven Howard in The Sun accuses the Italian of "planting a bomb under the FA" before going on to suggest that the manager should get the chop before the tournament.
The Telegraph also suggests that Capello could be fired for his comments, but the Daily Mail's Martin Samuel refuses to get excited, claiming that the captaincy is irrelevant in any case. That argument is massively undermined by the very fact of the huge interest in what's been going on - if it really didn't matter, nobody would care.
None of the papers pick up on one of the key parties at fault: if Chelsea's lawyers hadn't pleaded with the court not to try the case during the football season, then Terry would have been found guilty or proven innocent long before Euro 2012, and none of this would have been an issue.
With Capello and Villas-Boas making the news, it seems almost inevitable that the other most famous foreign manager in Britain should be on the back pages too. And there indeed is Arsene Wenger, linked by the Daily Express with the position of France coach after Euro 2012 - a switch that is made possible by Laurent Blanc's relationship with French FA president Noel Le Graet being at "breaking point".
The Daily Mirror reports that big-spending Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala are trying to lure Kolo Toure away from Manchester City. Anzhi will try to tempt the player with a huge pay packet, and are offering City a massive loan payment up front to tie up a deal that would include an option for a permanent switch in the summer.
The Times reports that Chris Samba's dispute with Blackburn could turn legal as the defender was left out of the 7-1 thrashing by Arsenal on Saturday, despite Steve Kean confirming that the club captain was fit and ready to play. The PFA have now been asked to step in to try and arbitrate a settlement.
Stephen Ireland's ability to shoot himself in the foot seems undimmed, as The Sun reports that the Aston Villamidfielder told his boss Alex McLeish to 'f*** off' after being blamed for Newcastle's opening goal on Sunday. McLeish later brushed the incident off, claiming that he only later substituted Ireland because of an ankle problem.

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