Ordinarily, a run-of-the-mill transfer story involving a relatively unknown defender, one Premier League mid-table side and one relegation-threatened outfit, would not be ProSoccerTalk fodder.
But pay attention to this one – because the ripple effect will carry all the way to Major League Soccer. To Toronto FC, specifically.
West Brom defender Jonas Olsson was a January transfer window target of Harry Redknapp and Queens Park Rangers. The London club, which has a mighty fight ahead to avoid a drop into England’s second tier, had reportedly offered about $8 million for the Swedish international.
Today comes news that West Brom has said “thanks, but no thanks.”
Here’s the relevant matter:
Olsson would have reinforced a defense currently guided by veteran center back Ryan Nelsen. Nelsen, 35, is ready to move on to the next part of his life. He has just been named manager at Toronto, which created the very unstable situation where a manager has been named who will not be in a position to overseen pre-season training, the upcoming draft, and quite possibly a third of TFC’s regular season matches. But, you know; details, details.
Word is out today that as Nelsen looks for the emergency exit, Redknapp and QPR are increasingly determined to keep the respected New Zealand international around.
Olsson’s arrival might have helped pry Nelsen loose, adding cover and experience and generally helping soften the January blow. Well, so much for that.
Jose Mourinho got the
dreaded much-needed vote of confidence from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last weekend, seemingly giving the Portuguese manager a temporary stay of execution despite the Blues’ worst start to a season in 37 years.
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Speaking this week, Mourinho has revealed that while he’s thankful to have been kept on at the club for which he regularly professes his love, he still thinks it was no-brainer for Abramovich. In other words, Mourinho’s not backing down from his incredible, seven-minute rant to one question following Saturday’s defeat to Southampton.
Mourinho, on what he’s doing to turn Chelsea around — quotes from the Guardian:
“It shows the confidence of Abramovich in the manager who has won three Premier League titles with this club. I thank him and I keep working.
“What’s going on? I do not know. The results with Chelsea at the moment have been really bad. I cannot hide that reality, and I don’t want to. And I struggle to find an explanation. But I assure you: I’m working like never before and we will come out of this. And there is also the Champions League that we will not neglect, for certain.”
What did you expect from Mourinho? Well, you know, I should probably be fired, but thanks to Mr. Abramovich for not realizing this and keeping me employed? It’s simultaneously interesting and the least surprising thing ever, though, that Mourinho claims to not know what’s wrong with Chelsea at the moment. Of course he has a theory (or five), and of course he’s “working like never before” to correct it.
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The most fascinating thing about Chelsea’s sluggish start to the season is to see, hear and read Mourinho speaking from a position of powerlessness. Always the clever one, the one dictating where the discussion goes, the one in charge of every press interaction, Saturday’s rant felt like watching a desperate Mourinho grasping for anything by which to pull himself back up.
There are claims out of Spain that Manchester City has a verbal agreement to bring Pep Guardiola to town when his Bayern Munich contract expires in June.
Don’t expect comment from Guardiola, who bristles when discussing his future. In the past he’s hinted he might not be the right man for the Bavarian side, but has lamented any questions about clubs other than Bayern.
Now Mundo Deportivo writer Francesc Aguilar says there’s a secret agreement between Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain to reunite at the Etihad Stadium this summer.
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Both Barcelona buffs and former Spanish internationals, Begiristain was Barca’s director of football when Guardiola took over for Frank Rjikaard in 2008.
Manuel Pellegrini signed a contract extension this summer and has led the club to a Premier League title, though the club has struggled in European competition. For what it’s worth, the Manchester Evening News got rumor reaction from Sergio Aguero:
On the latest Guardiola rumour, Kun said: “It has been talked about a lot. I don’t know him, but he’s a great manager and it’s wonderful to have the best managers train you.”
But he also added: “I’m very good with Manuel Pellegrini, we talk a lot. I’m happy in the team and with him, but the club will be the one who chooses who comes in.”
In other words, “I’m really good, and they pay me well enough that I’m prepared to play for any big name that arrives.”
It’s a story to keep up with, even as it intrudes on the seasons of two big, rich European clubs.