Nigeria coach hasn’t been paid in seven months

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Despite winning the Africa Cup of Nations in February and leading Nigeria to within one game of qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, head coach Stephen Keshi claimed he has not been paid in seven months. He told the BBC on Thursday that it is “the lowest point of my career.”

“I have never had this kind of experience before,” said Keshi, who coached Togo and Mali before taking the Nigeria job in 2011. “In Mali, they will never owe you. Your salary will hit your account before the end of every month. It was the same thing in Togo.”

The Nigerian Football Federation is having serious money problems, as it also owes back pay to assistant coach Daniel Amokachi and goalkeeper coach Ike Shorunmu. The NFF receives its funding from the Nigerian sports ministry.

However, the federation has stated that bonuses and allowances have not been withheld, and those should be enough for the coaches to pay living expenses.

“If there is any NFF member who said we can work for free, then I will want to speak with him face to face,” Keshi said. “I will be in debt because I have not been paid for seven months, and somebody is saying we should not complain.”

Nigeria defeated Ethiopia, 2-1, in the first leg of African World Cup qualification playoffs on Oct. 13 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, behind two goals from Emmanuel Emenike. The second leg is set for Nov. 16 in Calabar, Nigeria, and an anonymous source with the NFF told the BBC that the coaches’ pay problems would hopefully be resolved by then.

“It’s embarrassing to be dealing with something like this ahead of a crucial game,” the source said. “Sadly, our terrible financial situation is solely responsible for this. We are hopeful this will be resolved before the game against Ethiopia.”

Mourinho “working like never before” to turn Chelsea around

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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.

Reports link Guardiola with Manchester City summer move

Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga
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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.