Tag Archives: Jose Mourinho

Five Possible Destinations For Mario Balotelli

Balo-Destinations

Mario Balotelli’s relationship with Manchester City is in hot waters after his decision to take the club to a tribunal over disciplinary fines and that could leave the club with no choice but offload him in January.

The Italian striker has earned himself an infamous reputation in his short spell at the Etihad Stadium – his indiscipline on and off the field and his inconsistent form could catalyze a move away from Eastlands in the upcoming January transfer window. Here we have a look at the five possible destinations for the Italian star.

1. Inter Milan

Many newspapers across the UK have reported that the Inter owner Massimo Moratti is keen to bring back Balotelli to the club where he spent three prolific years before his big money move to Manchester. The 22-year-old is rumoured to be suffering from homesickness and has also been spotted several times this season in the stands at the San Siro. A move back to Inter will be the best thing for Italian as he will be back home.

2. AC Milan

Since the Rossoneri sold Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG in the summer, they have not been the same force of the old and are now 17 points behind leaders Juventus in the Serie A. Chief executive Adriano Galliani is an admirer of the volatile forward and has pondered a possible bid for him. Whether it’s a temporary loan move or a full transfer back to the San Siro, Balotelli would probably prefer a homecoming with a new challenge.

3. Paris Saint-Germain

Where there is a world-class player, there is PSG transfer rumour. The French capital club had a bid rejected for striker in the summer, but it looks highly unlikely that the reigning Premier League champions would rejected another offer for the striker, low in the pecking order, should it be made again in January. Super Mario would no doubt take the Ligue 1 by storm, but the move would certainly upset PSG’s current alpha male, Ibrahimovic.

4. Real Madrid

Elsewhere, Madrid boss Jose Mourinho is another admirer of the City striker since he was at Inter and was reportedly considering a move for him this summer. Perhaps now he could reignite his interested to lure Balotelli to the Bernabeu, but I doubt it will happen. The former Chelsea and Inter boss wouldn’t want to rock the Madrid boat that is already edging closer to capsizing as it is.

5. Fulham

The outsiders are the West London club Fulham. Boss Martin Jol has expressed his admiration and interest in the Italian striker but that the Cottagers would find it ‘impossible’ to lure him to Craven Cottage and afford him. Perhaps Mancini would consider sending Balotelli to Craven Cottage on loan for the rest of the season and keep an eye on him. But I doubt Mario will give Fulham a consideration.

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Teams Manchester United and Arsenal Want To Avoid In The Champions League Round Of 16

Arsenal-United-ucl

Arsene Wenger recently said it didn’t matter if his side finish second in their group, but given the difference between the sides Arsenal and Manchester United might draw, he may have to think again.

As everyone knows, if you want to win tournaments, you are going to face the best teams at some stage of the tournament. With Arsenal finishing second in their group, they now are more than likely to face a tricky first round in the knockout stages. While, Manchester United finished top of their group and although there are a couple of teams they will want to avoid, they will likely get a favourable draw.

Manchester United

For United, Real Madrid are clearly the ones to avoid, with Jose Mourinho’s men second in their group by Borussia Dortmund. As the Portuguese himself said, the past two times his side have finished second in their group they have gone on to win the Champions League, and with the quality they have in their squad, they are still one of the favourites to win the tournament. The other side United will be keen to avoid is Shakhtar Donetsk, who have been very impressive this season and knocked Chelsea out.

The other four teams that Manchester United could draw pose less threat than the above two. Milan are improving but they don’t look like they will be able to compete in Europe this year. Porto are tricky, but United should be able to beat them, and the same goes for Valencia. Celtic could be interesting given it will be the ‘Battle of Britain’ and their performances against Barcelona were incredible, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would be expected to win comfortably.

Arsenal

While United are looking to avoid only two teams, the Gunners really have only one favourable draw and that’s Malaga. The Spanish side’s excellent start has fallen away a little bit in the league, and with their inexperience in the Champions League you would think Arsenal would be able to beat them. The rest of the sides look dangerous.

PSG like Malaga are inexperienced in Europe, but have Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a number of other talent players. They are probably the second best draw available. Then there is Juventus and Dortmund, winners over Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and Shakhtar already, and they are not the real big guns of Europe. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are rightly considered amongst the favourites for the tournament, and if Wenger’s side pick either name, it will be very tough to see them making the last eight.

So, who do you want, and who you don’t want?

A Complete Guide To The Final 16 Teams Of The Champions League

UCL-Draw

Manchester United and Arsenal, the only two remaining English sides, will be looking to avoid the big guns in the draw for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, which takes place in Nyon (Switzerland) on Thursday 10:30am GMT.

Manchester United qualified as Group H winners and so are seeded in the draw but they still could be drawn against the big sides, while Arsenal finished as runners-up and like United could face the top guns especially Barcelona (third time in the past four seasons) in the knockout stages. On the other hand, Chelsea became the first holders to be eliminated in the group stages, while Manchester City were completely knocked out of Europe as they ended bottom of their group.

Group Winners: Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Group Runners-Up: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray

Below we have a look at each of the above 16 teams in detail..

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Country: France
Coach:
Carlo Ancelotti
Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Other Star Players: Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi & Javier Pastore
Rising Star: Marco Verratti
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 1995
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: PSG are one of the richest clubs in the world and have ambitions to win the Champions League this term. If striker Ibrahimovic can continue his superb form from the group stages, it might just happen.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

SCHALKE 04

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jens Keller
Key Player: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Other Star Players: Benedikt Howedes, Lewis Holtby & Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Rising Star: Julian Draxler
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Galatasary, Valencia, Celtic, Real Madrid
Chances: The Germans were unbeaten through their group which consisted the likes of Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier, which shows they are not a team to be taken for granted. One their day they could upset the big guns.
Prediction: Round of 16

MALAGA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Manuel Pellengrini
Key Player: Isco
Other Star Players: Joaquin, Martin Demichelis & Eliseu
Rising Star: Francisco Portillo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Debutants
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: Have been very impressive so far in their debut season in the Champions League, but their inexperience in the competition may prove costly in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jurgen Klopp
Key Player: Marco Reus
Other Star Players: Roberto Lewandowski, Mats Hummels & Mario Gotze
Rising Star: Moritz Leitner
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1997
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Bundesliga champions have very much caught the eye in the group stages after finishing at top of the Group of Death and are the team to beat. Considered as the dark horses for the title.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

JUVENTUS

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Antonio Conte
Key Player: Arturo Vidal
Other Star Players: Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon & Giorgio Chiellini
Rising Star: Paul Pogba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1985, 1996
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Serie A champions remained unbeaten in the group stages and topped their group by winning on the final matchday. The Italians are expected to step it up when the competition resumes in February.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

BAYERN MUNICH

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jupp Heynckes
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Other Star Players: Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger & Philipp Lahm
Rising Star: David Alaba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The current Bundesliga leaders ended as the beaten finalists last season and will be looking to make amends for it. They have been in fine form so far and are one of the favourites to lift the trophy in May.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

BARCELONA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Tito Vilanova
Key Player: Lionel Messi
Other Star Players: Andres Iniesta, Xavi & Sergio Busquets
Rising Star: Christian Tello
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1992, 2006, 2009, 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Arsenal, Galatasaray, AC Milan
Chances: The Catalans were the pre-tournament favourites to win the competition and there has been very little so far to suggest that they won’t win it this term. Vilanova has done brilliantly since taking over from Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Prediction: Winners

MANCHESTER UNITED

Country: England
Coach:
 Sir Alex Ferguson
Key Player: Wayne Rooney
Other Star Players: Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic & Antonio Valencia
Rising Star: Rafael
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1968, 1999, 2008
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic
Chances: Unlike last season, United have marched pretty easily into the knockout stages and with Van Persie & Rooney both in form they are a team to fear. Surely one of the contenders for the title.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

PORTO

Country: Portugal
Coach:
 Vitor Pereira
Key Player: Jackson Martinez
Other Star Players: Joao Moutinho, Lucho Gonzalez & Nicolas Otamendi
Rising Star: James Rodriguez
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winner 1987, 2004
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: The Portuguese champions have gone all the way before but its very unlikely it will happen again this season. They have a very good squad with some very talented players but its highly unlikely they will trouble the big teams.
Prediction: Round of 16

ARSENAL

Country: England
Coach:
 Arsene Wenger
Key Player: Santi Cazrola
Other Star Players: Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen & Lukas Podolski
Rising Star: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2006
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: The Gunners have had a stuttering season both domestically and in Europe – especially at home. They will need to improve a lot in the second half of the season if they want to be genuine title contenders.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

AC MILAN

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Massimiliano Allegri
Key Player: Stephan El Shaarawy
Other Star Players: Philippe Mexes, Ricardo Montolivo & Kevin-Prince Boateng
Rising Star: Mattia De Sciglio
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Arsenal, the Rossoneri are struggling this term domestically and in Europe. They are not the force of the old, although their pedigree and experience in this competition means they should not be taken lightly.
Prediction: Round of 16

REAL MADRID

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Jose Mourinho
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Other Star Players: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos & Mesut Ozil
Rising Star: Raphael Varane
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Its been over a decade since Real Madrid last won the Champions League and the boss Mourinho has never appeared more determined to win the tournament for the club this season. With the team they have they are regarded as the joint favourites alongside Barca.
Prediction: Runners-Up

SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Country: Ukraine
Coach:
 Mircea Lucescu
Key Player: Luiz Adriano
Other Star Players: Darijo Srna, Willian & Fernandinho
Rising Star: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Quarter-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Dortmund, Shakhtar are another side that have grabbed the attention of many in the group stages. They are the ones who dumped Chelsea out of the tournament and a side very few people would want to face in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

VALENCIA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Ernesto Valverde
Key Player: Roberto Soldado
Other Star Players: Jonas, Sofiane Feghouli & Adil Rami
Rising Star: Daniel Parejo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2000, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester United
Chances: The Spaniards have been very impressive in the group stages with their star striker at the top of his game but do not appear equipped for a really extended run in competition this season.
Prediction: Round of 16

CELTIC

Country: Scotland
Coach:
 Neil Lennon
Key Player: Giorgos Samaras
Other Star Players: Fraser Forster, Victor Wanyama & Gary Hooper
Rising Star: Anthony Watt
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1967
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Had little hopes of making it through to the knockout stages after being grouped with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow but they did it. Anything else from now will be a bonus for the Scottish champions.
Prediction: Round of 16

GALATASARAY

Country: Turkey
Coach:
 Fatih Terim
Key Player: Burak Yilmaz
Other Star Players: Felipe Melo, Nordin Amrabat & Hamit Altintop
Rising Star: Semih Kaya
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-finals 1989
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: Snatched the second spot from CFR Cluj on the final matchday. Like Celtic, anything else they achieve from now on will be a bonus for the Turkish side and very few teams will fancy making the trip to the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.
Prediction: Round of 16

Jose Mourinho and Manchester United – Match made in Heaven?

Mourinho-United

Sir Alex Ferguson recently in an interview admitted that the Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho can manage anywhere in the world and is more than capable of replacing him as Manchester United manager.

Mourinho this year completed his decade in European football and it seems like everything he touches turns in gold. He won the League and the Champions League with Porto, the Premier League and the FA Cup with Chelsea, the Treble (Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League) with Inter Milan and the La Liga with Real Madrid. However, his biggest challenge of his career could come in Manchester.

There has been a lot of talk of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement this season with many different names – like Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, David Moyes, Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to name a few – linked to succeed him at Old Trafford. The Scot has openly admitted that one manager who is certainly good enough to do the job is Mourinho. A brilliant coach with a brilliant track record.

Here, we have a look at the five reasons why Mourinho and Manchester United are a match made in heaven…

1. Challenge

Mourinho loves a challenge, whether it was making Porto a European giant or making Chelsea a English powerhouse or winning the unprecedented treble with Inter or stopping Barcelona’s dominance in the La Liga, he just loves them and there won’t be any bigger challenge than coaching Manchester United once Fergie has hung up his coat. On the pitch, United are one of the top clubs in the world and will provide him with the opportunity of fulfilling his dream of winning the Champions League with an English club.

2. Guaranteed Success

The Portuguese boss is a winner and knows how to win the major trophies. He has won the league in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain and also has the experience needed to manage a top side like Manchester United having managed Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid. He will keep United at the top of their game and will ensure that there is no fallout period when Fergie has gone. Ferguson has been at the club for more than 25 years and ensuring there is no fallout period will be one of the biggest priorities for the club as they will be expected to challenge for the Premier League and the Champions League.

3. Brilliant Tactician

Like Ferguson, Mourinho is a brilliant tactician and that makes him a slight favourite to succeed the Scot at the helm of Old Trafford ahead of Guadriola and Moyes. United will need a tactical genius to replace Fergie, as he will be very important for all the future battles the club will have with Manchester City and Chelsea over the league title and other giants in Europe. Ferguson is not afraid of making the big and bold tactical decisions during the big games and Mourinho would carry this element of the side forward perfectly.

4. Brilliant Off The Pitch

Mourinho is not only brilliant at getting the results on the pitch but also off it. He is second to none when it comes to man management and sticking up for his players and his club in general. Very few outside United can target the club without some form of retribution from Sir Alex and this is something that would carry on under Mourinho’s guidance. Like the Scot, he is a great motivator and also good at playing the mind games, giving his side the psychological advantage before an important game. At the same time, he is a brilliant coach to watch in any press conference.

5. Perfect Opportunity To Settle Down

Mourinho is known more of a journeyman as he moves on quickly from one club to the next after he has achieved success. This aspect of him will have to change because United will not appoint someone they don’t expect to have the same sort of longevity as Ferguson. This is why some fans are saying that Guardiola would be a better option than Mourinho. But, to be honest, the Portuguese boss hasn’t got a chance to show his longevity at any of his clubs. When he was at Porto, a super-rich Chelsea came calling and it was always going to be very difficult for anyone to reject Roman Abramovich’s cash and the chance to manage in the Premier League. After three years at Stamford Bridge and a series of disagreements with the chairman, he was asked to leave and later he joined Inter. He won the treble with the Italians and then came Real Madrid. Who wouldn’t want to manage the most successful club in the world? However, he isn’t going to keep changing clubs forever, sooner or later he is going settle down somewhere and Manchester United could provide him with perfect opportunity to do so.

So, what do you think? Should Manchester United go for Mourinho? Will he be a success at Old Trafford?

Top Ten Best-Paid Managers In The World

best-paid managers

Brazilian sports business consultants – Pluri Consultoria – have this week published online a list of the best-paid football managers in the world, by annual salary.

There is no surprise who heads the pack but there are some interesting names on the list. Here at IntoTheTopCorner, we have a look at the top ten managers from that rich list…

10. ROBERTO MANCINI (MANCHESTER CITY | €5.9 MILLION)

Roberto-Mancini

When you are managing a club owned by oil-rich owners you are expected to be earning a huge annual salary and it’s no surprise to see the current Manchester City manager on the list, perhaps that he is tenth on the list is a bit surprising. The former Inter and Lazio boss has won the FA Cup and the Premier League during his time at Eastlands and is at the helm of Europe’s few undefeated teams in the league this season.

9. JOSE CAMACHO (CHINA | €5.9 MILLION)

Jose-Camacho

In order to catch up with the Asian heavyweights like Japan and South Korea, the rich Chinese FA searched in many parts of Europe – mainly the Netherlands, Germany and Spain – for an experienced coach, and appointed Jose Camacho. The former Spain and Real Madrid coach was given the job with objective of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Despite his huge annual paycheck the Spaniard failed and is now preparing for next year’s Asian Cup.

8. TITO VILANOVA (BARCELONA | €7 MILLION)

Tito-Vilanova

Taking over at Barcelona is not an easy job especially from the club’s most successful manager in history – Pep Guardiola. However, the former assistant is justifying his millions in his first top-flight job and currently has a win rate of 86%, which is more than his predecessor. The Catalan giants are 11 points clear of Real Madrid in the league and through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

7. FABIO CAPELLO (RUSSIA | €7.8 MILLION)

Fabio-Capello

A CV boasting of five Serie A titles, one Champions League and two La Liga titles, it’s no surprise that the Italian is the best-paid international manager in the world during his current tenure as Russia coach. His current salary is a slight increase than what he earned during his time as England coach, where his contributions were a bit disappointing. However, the Russians under Capello are undefeated with five win in seven games and are at the top of their World Cup qualifying group.

6. GUUS HIDDINK (ANZHI MAKHACHKALA | €8.3 MILLION)

Guus-Hiddink

Like Capello, the Dutchman has also enjoed a long and successful managerial career at club and international level. After failing to qualify for Euro 2012 in Poland & Ukraine with Turkey, Hiddink joined the Russian moneybags earlier this year. With Anzhi second in the Russian Premier League, the former Chelsea boss has announced that his current annual paycheck will be the last one as he will be retiring at the end of the season.

5. ARSENE WENGER (ARSENAL | €9.3 MILLION)

Arsene-Wenger

With his intelligent spending, innovative training techniques and brilliant ability to develop youngsters, the Frenchman might be the cleverest manager in the game and he gets very well paid for that. Wenger has delivered three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and 15 consecutive seasons of Champions League football since taking over at Arsenal in 1996. Yet his willingness to sell Arsenal’s best players has been identified as a major flaw by the fans. With the Gunners virtually out of the title race, Wenger’s days may be numbered if his team fails to finish in the top four.

4. SIR ALEX FERGUSON (MANCHESTER UNITED | €9.4 MILLION)

Sir-Alex-Ferguson

The Scot has been at the same job – Manchester United – for over 25 years, which makes his annual salary seem relatively modest compared to ones above him in the list. The Red Devils were in deep trouble when he took over and has made them one of most successful teams in the world by winning 12 league titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups and four League Cups. This season, Sir Alex’s side remain on course for yet another league title and have also reached the last-16 of the Champions League.

3. MARCELLO LIPPI (GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE | €10 MILLION)

Marcello-Lippi

A manager whose resume boasts a World Cup, five Serie A titles and a Champions  League is expected to earn an annual salary in double figures. The former Italy coach joined the Chinese Super League champions in May this year on a two-and-a-half year contract worth up to €30 million. So far, Lippi has fulfilled the club’s expectations by guiding them to their second consecutive league title in October and also by winning the Chinese FA Cup in November for the first time evert in the club’s history.

2. CARLO ANCELOTTI (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN | €13.5 MILLION)

Carlo-Ancelotti

The Italian proved that getting sacked at Chelsea doesn’t put a dent to your managerial career when he signing a multi-million Euro deal to take over at Qatar-funded PSG last year. He took charge when the French side were at the top of the league, but failed to guide them to the title. Despite spending heavily during the transfer windows, he has yet to bring any silverware to the Paresians. However, the former Milan boss could turn things around this season, as PSG are third in the league – five points behind Lyon – and are through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

1, JOSE MOURINHO (REAL MADRID | €15.3 MILLION)

Jose-Mourinho

The Portuguese takes home the largest amount each year and it is hardly surprising given his extraordinary record since guiding Porto to an historic treble in 2003. The Special One has won league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain and has also won the Champions League with Porto and Inter. However, things aren’t going well for him in the current campaign, with Los Blancos 11 points behind leaders Barcelona. Such a margin is a bit too much in the La Liga and if Mou fails to bring the Champions League to the Bernabeu, he might get his marching orders at the end of the season.

Here are the remaining twenty managers from the 30-man rich list..

11. Frank Rijkaard (Saudi Arabia | €5.3 Million)
12. Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich | €5.2 Million)
13. Andre Villas-Boas (Tottenham Hotspur | €4.5 Million)
14. Harry Redknapp (Queens Park Rangers | €4 Million)
15. Jorge Jesus (Benfica | €4 Million)
16. David Moyes (Everton | €3.6 Million)
17. Manuel Pellegrini (Malaga | €3.6 Million)
18. Paulo Autuori (Qatar | €3.6 Million)
19. Abel Braga (Fluminense | €3.5 Million)
20. Luciano Spaletti (Zenit St Petersburg | €3.3 Million)
21. Antonio Conte (Juventus | €3 Million)
22. Cesare Prandelli (Italy | €3 Million)
23. Luxemburgo (Gremio | €3 Million)
24. Muricy (Santos | €3 Million)
25. Tite (Corinthians | €3 Million)
26. Ottmar Hitzfeld (Switzerland | €2.6 Million)
27. Joachim Low (Germany | €2.5 Million)
28. Marcelo Biesla (Athletic Bilbao | €2.5 Million)
29. Martin O’Neill (Sunderland | €2.5 Million)
30. Roy Hodgson (England | €2.5 Million)

Robeto Di Matteo Sacked As Chelsea Boss – Not Surprising At All!!

Chelsea have sensationally sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo following their 3-0 defeat to the Italian champions Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Less than seven months after guiding the Blues to FA Cup and Champions League glory, Di Matteo has been shown the door at Stamford Bridge for the club’s poor performances in this season’s Champions League. Chelsea are currently third in Group E behind leaders Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus, and are on the verge of becoming the first defending champions to be eliminated in the group stages.

A statement on Chelsea’s official website read:

The team’s recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.

The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.

The owner and the Board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory and a seventh FA Cup. We will never forget the huge contribution he has made to this club’s history and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge.

The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager.

What went wrong?

The sacking of Roberto Di Matteo just six months after he won the FA Cup and Champions League is a bit unlucky, but to be honest not surprising at all!! It was always going happen, but it has happened quicker than anyone expected. The Italian was never Roman Abramovich’s man for the permanent job in the first place, but he won the Champions League last season (by accident maybe) and that probably forced the Russian billionaire to give him the job at the start of the season.

Actually, the dressing room with the likes of John Terry, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Petr Cech won the trophy, not the manager. He has tried to change the style of football. A powerful team has been replaced by skillful young players and that has resulted in some eye-catching, mouth-watering sparkling football, but at the same time have also been overpowered by the likes of Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk and Manchester United.

The Blues started the season with the chance of winning seven trophies but are now on the freefall and that has made Abramovich furious. Although the owner was kind enough to overlook the Community Shield defeat to Manchester City, he was mad with the 4-1 defeat against Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup even after spending more than £80million on new players.

Chelsea need a miracle to make it through Group E of the Champions League and in danger of becoming the first holders in the history of the competition to be eliminated in the group phase. The  failure to get out of the group stages of Europe’s most prestigious club competition is a pretty poor return for a club with a huge wage bill and a big transfer kitty and Di Matteo even admitted himself that ‘if you fail at Chelsea, you lose your job’. He has paid the price for it.

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Who Next?

According to various reports across the UK, former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola and former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez are being linked with the new managerial vacancy at Stamford Bridge, with the latter believed to be the front runner for the job.

Roman Abramovich is obssessed with bringing Pep Guardiola and his style of football to Chelsea, but the former Barcelona midfielder is currently on a year’s sabbatical in New York and would need a ‘phenomenal’ offer cut that short. On the other hand, Benitez, who was in Abu Dhabi this morning, is expected to be flying into England on Thursday and could be given the job until the end of the season.

Other likely candidates for the job are former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, former Chelsea boss and current Anzhi head coach Guus Hiddink, Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho and former England manager Fabio Capello, but Benitez remains the favourite.

Chelsea are expected to make the appointment of the new manager before Friday, ahead of the club’s key fixture against the reigning Premier League champions and current league leaders Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

El Clasico – Barcelona v Real Madrid Preview

There are very few fixtures in world football that capture the imagination quite like the meeting between the two giants of Spanish football – Barcelona and Real Madrid, as the El Clasico returns tonight.

Two old adversaries will lock horns at Camp Nou in the latest installment of a derby dual which will perhaps decide the fate of the league at a point sooner than ever before. Barcelona are currently at the top of the table and hold an eight-point lead over their arch rivals. It’s no rocket science that anything apart from a win for Real Madrid will mean a huge task for them to overturn the deficit and defend their league title.

TEAM NEWS

Barcelona

Barcelona will assess Gerard Pique’s fitness ahead of Sunday’s Primera Division showdown with Real Madrid at Camp Nou. The Spain defender has not played for two weeks because of a foot injury but managed to train in the gym on Friday. Carles Puyol (elbow) and Thiago Alcantara (knee) are ruled out, meaning converted midfielders Alex Song and Javier Mascherano are likely to resume their partnership in central defence.

Real Madrid

Sami Khedira and Angel Di Maria are set to return to the starting line-up for Real Madrid, who have no injury concerns. The biggest selection dilemma for boss Jose Mourinho is likely to be over the playmaker role, with Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric, Kaka and Michael Essien all vying for a starting berth.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 221
Barcelona Wins – 87
Draw – 46
Real Madrid Wins – 88

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

29-Aug-12 – Super Cup – Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona
23-Aug-12 – Super Cup – Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid
21-Apr-12 – La Liga – Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid
25-Jan-12 – Copa del Rey – Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid
18-Jan-12 – Copa del Rey – Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona

FORM GUIDE

Barcelona – WWWWW

02-Oct-12 – Champions League – Benfica 0-2 Barcelona
29-Sep-12 – La Liga – Sevilla 2-3 Barcelona
22-Sep-12 – La Liga – Barcelona 2-0 Granada
19-Sep-12 – Champions League – Barcelona 3-2 Spartak Moscow
15-Sep-12 – La Liga – Getafe 1-4 Barcelona

Real Madrid – WWWWL

03-Oct-12 – Champions League – Ajax 1-4 Real Madrid
30-Sep-12 – La Liga – Real Madrid 5-1 Deportivo
24-Sep-12 – La Liga – Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Real Madrid
18-Sep-12 – Champions League – Real Madrid 3-2 Manchester City
15-Sep-12 – La Liga – Sevilla 1-0 Real Madrid

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
The Argentine magician was an ever-present threat in the Champions League on Tuesday, setting up goals for Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas in the 2-0 win at Benfica. Barcelona will need Messi to be at his best again and keep the action firmly in the Real Madrid half to prevent the understrength defence from being troubled by the visitors.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Madrid’s star striker comes into this clash in the fine form and on the back of two consecutive hat-tricks against Deportivo and Ajax respectively. The torment of Barcelona in April when he scored the winning goal in this fixture last season which won Real the title, the Portuguese will again look to take command of this fixture.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-3-3): Victor Valdes; Dani Alves, Alex Song, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta; Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi, David Villa.

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Iker Casillas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo; Karim Benzema.

MATCH ODDS

Barcelona 17/20, Draw 11/4, Real Madrid 3/1

PREDICTION

With Barcelona having to deal with many injuries in the heart of the defence and Real Madrid having their best players in top form, its Real Madrid’s game to lose. As all games between these two sides, this one is also expected to be an open, end-to-end game of football with both sides going for the win. A win for the Catalan giants and they go eleven points ahead of their fierce rivals, but a win for the reigning champions and they are back in the race. An exciting match is expected followed by a win for the defending champions.

Predicted Score: Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid