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.

Report: Bayern Munich scouted Walker, Alexis this weekend

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German publication Kicker says Bayern Munich technical director Michael Reschke attended both of this weekend’s FA Cup semifinals and had his eye on two players in particular.

Reschke apparently wants to bring players from both North London Derby rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to the Allianz Arena.

[ MORE: Liverpool’s Top Four plight ]

In the case of Spurs, that man is right back Kyle Walker. The 26-year-old has also played right mid in 8 of his 35 matches for Tottenham this season, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. It’s hard to believe Spurs would have interest in selling Walker, who would help fill the role of retiring Philipp Lahm.

On the other side is Alexis Sanchez, the embattled but electric Arsenal attacker who Arsene Wenger described as an “animal” and “always ready to kill the opponent” this weekend. Wenger says Sanchez isn’t going anywhere, but Bayern does boast Chilean teammate Arturo Vidal and former Barca mate Thiago Alcantara.

Walker is signed at Spurs through 2021, while Sanchez’s contract ends after next season.

Roma lands sporting director Monchi, a reported Arsenal target

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AS Roma has found its new sporting director, and it’s a man with a keen eye for talent.

Ramon “Monchi” Rodriguez Verdejo, 48, has spent the last 18 years as the sporting director at Sevilla, which won five UEFA Europa League titles under his watch.

Monchi was discussed in the media as a target for the same job at Arsenal and was a target for other Premier League clubs, but Roma sealed the deal with the former goalkeeper.

[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]

He is considered to have a big role in discovering and developing Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, and Dani Alves.

Read more from ASRoma.com.

Liverpool’s murky Top Four path depends on Manchester United

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Liverpool is a historic club with incredible presence. Jurgen Klopp is a celebrated manager with a strong reputation as a players’ coach.

Those two facets will always make the club attractive to players. Missing out on the UEFA Champions League is another thing altogether and would put a huge dent in Klopp’s ambitious recruitment goals.

And right now, the Reds look destined to drop out of the Top Four.

[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Chelsea 32 24 3 5 65 27 38 13-0-2 11-3-3 75
 Tottenham Hotspur 32 21 8 3 68 22 46 15-2-0 6-6-3 71
 Liverpool 34 19 9 6 70 42 28 11-4-2 8-5-4 66
 Manchester City 32 19 7 6 63 35 28 8-6-1 11-1-5 64
 Manchester United 32 17 12 3 50 24 26 7-9-1 10-3-2 63
 Everton 34 16 10 8 60 37 23 12-4-1 4-6-7 58
 Arsenal 31 17 6 8 63 40 23 10-3-2 7-3-6 57

Even if Manchester United and Manchester City draw Thursday’s derby, both will be poised to pass the Reds by winning the match-in-hand.

Injury-ravaged United is bothered by UEFA Europa League duty against Celta Vigo, and has a brutal run-in that includes Spurs and Arsenal in addition to City. Liverpool has to hope United falls off, because Man City is likely going to walk over the Top Four line even with a draw in the derby.

The worst case scenario for Liverpool, aside from continuing to flail against clubs outside the Top Seven, is United toppling City on Thursday.

As an aside, it’s extremely unlikely that Arsenal leaps into the fray but if the Gunners did it would come at the expense of United.

Really, Liverpool’s run-in is perfectly built for two of its supporters’ favorite things: Winning matches and rooting against Manchester United. Here’s how they finish:

May 1 — at Watford
May 7 — vs. Southampton
May 14 — at West Ham United
May 21 — vs. Middlesbrough

Liverpool battered Watford 6-1 at Anfield and Boro 3-0 at the Riverside Stadium, but drew both Saints and West Ham earlier this season in addition to losing to Southampton in an EFL Cup semifinal.

Say the Reds nab a perfect 12 points to finish with 78; They’ll need City to take less than 14 from six remaining matches and United to earn less than 15 from six. The latter is far more likely than the former, but will matter very little if Klopp can’t motivate and organize his men in the final four matches.

Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS, much more in lengthy interview

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Ambassadors responsible for Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s move to America extend deep into the 1970s.

1977 to be exact. That’s when Franz Beckenbauer first came to the New York Cosmos from Bayern Munich, a three-season tenure that went so well he returned to New York for his final professional season after time with Hamburg.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

Schweinsteiger said Beckenbauer’s words meant a lot to him, and admitted that he’s not imparting that wisdom to other overseas players who ask him about MLS.

From TSN.ca (Full video here):

“I remember when David Beckham was playing here or even I know when Franz Beckenbauer was playing here, and I was talking to him and he said he had his best life in America,” Schweinsteiger said. “We spoke about it and I was thinking about it a little bit.For me it was a little bit different because I love to play soccer and in Manchester I couldn’t play enough soccer so that was the problem.”

Among several interesting soundbites from the interview with Schweinsteiger also spoke about Germany’s memorable destruction of host nation Brazil at the 2014 World Cup:

“I remember the semifinal that we won 7-1. Everyone speaks about the 7-1, but we were not talking so much about it because we felt very, in a way, sad, because you saw your teammates like Dante and Luis Gustavo and the Brazilian supporters and the team crying, so you couldn’t really celebrate. Our focus was so much looking forward to the final. I remember things like this, sometimes more than the final.”

Not something you consider often. Winning a match 2-1 against your club teammates is one thing, but sending them to international humiliation is another.