Mourinho hints at a return to Chelsea but is cut off by ITV’s howler

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What was ITV thinking when it cut short its interview with Jose Mourinho just as he appeared to be on the verge of revealing he will be at Chelsea next season? Money, apparently.

Following Real Madrid’s exit from the Champions League semi-final against Borussia Dortmund, Mourinho spoke with ITV reporter Gabriel Clarke even though ‘The Special One’ was only contractually obligated to speak to TV channels from Spain and Germany.

In the surprise interview, which was landed with only two minutes left before the end of ITV’s coverage, Clarke asked, “Maybe next season with Real?”

Mourinho responded, “Maybe not… I want to be where people love me.” With the hook set all Clarke had to do was follow up with Mourinho as to where that meant he’d likely end up but instead responded with, “We’ll take that as England, we’ve got to go.”

With fans on the edge of their seats waiting to hear Mourinho confirm what had long been rumored – that he would be returning to Chelsea this summer – ITV’s decision to opt for an advertisement drew widespread criticism. ITV has since responded to that criticism by claiming that going on with the interview and cutting the pre-paid advert would have cost the network half a million pounds.

In response to the criticism an ITV spokesman had the following to say: “Our reporter, Gabriel Clarke, and the team managed to land an unexpected interview with Jose Mourinho with only two minutes or so left before the end of last night’s programme.

“Unfortunately, at that point it was too late to arrange an overrun of the broadcast beyond the allotted time. However, in a tight, live situation, we decided to show as much as we could of their exchange to viewers.” ITV also noted that their complex advertising structure would have cost them upwards of $778,500 (£500,000) if they decided to cut the adverts and run a longer Mourinho interview.

At a press conference held later in the evening Mourinho noted his admiration for Madrid’s fans but nevertheless stated:  “I know in England I’m loved. I’m loved by the fans, I’m loved by the media that treats me in a fair way, criticising me but giving me credit when I deserve it.

“I know I’m loved by some clubs, especially one, and in Spain, the situation is a bit different because some people hate me. Many of you are in this room.”

It wasn’t the first time ITV has dropped the ball on its coverage of the beautiful game. In June 2010 it was forced to apologize after their HD coverage cut off Steven Gerrard’s opening World Cup goal for England against the United States after the broadcast was unexpectedly switched to a Hyundai commercial. In February 2009, the network enraged fans when Dan Gosling’s dramatic winner for Everton in the Merseyside FA Cup derby was missed due to an unexplained cut to an advert.

The result leaves Chelsea supporters and unbiased lovers of ‘The Special One’ waiting for the announcement that will be sure to rock the Premier League this summer. And while ITV could easily have managed to continue the interview while cutting an extra minute off the news that followed, it nevertheless appears an inevitability that Mourinho will be returning to Stamford Bridge.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.

Sydney FC clinches first place in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) After clinching first place in Australia’s A-League without taking the field, Sydney FC enhanced its record achievement with a 3-0 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday.

Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate as regular-season champions after the second-place Melbourne Victory lost 1-0 to Brisbane on Saturday, when Sydney had a night off.

The Brisbane win left Sydney with an unassailable 11-point lead in first place with three rounds to play.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The Sydney side also created some history: it became the only team to have remained in outright first position in the standings for an entire season.

In the other match Sunday, the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 5-0 to remain within five points of sixth-place Western Sydney for the final playoff spot.

Walking Dead? Star fittingly sees Exeter’s implausible comeback (video)

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As Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln regularly battles the undead on his show “The Walking Dead”.

As a friend of Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale, Lincoln was probably pretty happy to watch a team that would not die.

Exeter went down 3-0 when Yeovil Town broke a scoreless drought with a trio of tallies between the 62nd and 78th minutes.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

But Exeter’s David Wheeler scored in the 88th minute, and Troy Brown and Reuben Reid scored a minute apart at the beginning of stoppage time to earn a point for the League Two playoff hopeful.

Couple things on this video, too:

— Check out the shove on the goalkeeper when trying to collect the ball after the first goal of the fight back.

— Watch the man with his baby behind the net after the third goal. Did Mom know how safe her little one was?