‘Ranieri old, Wenger a failure’ – Mourinho mockery coming back to haunt him

The Chelsea boss has made fun of the Leicester and Arsenal managers, plus Manuel Pellegrini, but they are challenging for the title while he languishes near the foot of the table

'Ranieri old, Wenger a failure' - Mourinho mockery coming back to haunt him

Throughout his coaching career, Jose Mourinho has often had the last laugh. The most successful coach in the past decade along with Bayern Munich and former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, the Portuguese has relished putting down some of his counterparts. This season, however, it no longer seems so clever.

On Monday, Chelsea travel to Leicester for a meeting with the Premier League’s surprise package in 2015-16 – and his old foe Claudio Ranieri.

The Portuguese replaced Ranieri at Chelsea for his first spell in 2004. “It was the end of the cycle,” he said back then. But he later attacked the Italian when the two men were working in Serie A, Mourinho at Inter and Ranieri at Juventus.

“Ranieri has the mentality of someone who doesn’t need to win,” he said in 2008. “He is almost 70 years old, he has won a Supercup and another small trophy and he is too old to change his mentality. He’s old and he hasn’t won anything.”

The Italian was actually 56 at the time, while he has won a little more than Mourinho gave him credit for: a Copa del Rey and a Uefa Super Cup with Valencia, plus a Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa Italiana at Fiorentina. Nevertheless, Mou’s Inter side beat Ranieri’s Juventus to the title and he kept his reputation as a master of mind games.

Ahead of Monday’s match, however, Mourinho’s Chelsea are languishing just a point above the drop zone while the Italian’s Leicester side sit only one from the top with a game in hand. So, perhaps logically, it was a more gracious Jose who spoke on the eve of the game.

Nevertheless, there was still a hint of damning his rival with faint praise. “I think he won manager of the month,” the Portuguese said of Ranieri. “He should win manager of the half-term… the first six months.” And he couldn’t resist a barbed comment to go with it. “Last year, Ranieri was sacked by Greece for losing to the Faroe Islands,” he said. “Now, top of the league. It’s exciting.”

It’s nothing new, of course. Mourinho has often attacked Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, famously calling the Frenchman a “voyeur” in his first spell in charge of Chelsea, before labelling the Gunners boss a “specialist in failure” last year. He has also questioned how the 66-year-old has been able to stay in his job for so long.

But ahead of Leicester’s game at home to Chelsea on Monday, Arsenal are on top of the Premier League, while the question marks these days surround the future of Mourinho and not Wenger, who has put together an excellent side in north London on a much tighter budget than the Portuguese has had at any of his clubs with the exception of Porto.

And the other team looking like title contenders at the moment, Manchester City, are managed by another of Mourinho’s many adversaries: Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean coach was replaced by the Portuguese at Real Madrid and when the former later visited the Santiago Bernabeu as Malaga boss, he quipped: “If Madrid sacked me, I would go to a big team in England or Italy. I wouldn’t go to Malaga.”

It is all very well making such remarks while winning league titles and Champions Leagues, but Mourinho’s current tenure is proving much less successful, despite winning the Premier League and the Capital One Cup last season, and he may have to reassess his options if his Chelsea spell is brought to an end in the coming months.

In the Premier League, he has already had to do so and after last weekend’s shock defeat at home to promoted side Bournemouth, he said: “Our objective is to fight for the top four, but maybe now we have to think of finishing in the top six.”

It is quite a fall from grace and whatever does happen in the rest of the season, Chelsea’s current predicament means there is now little room for Mourinho’s customary smugness and arrogance.

And if Ranieri, Pellegrini or Wenger walk away with the title next May, it will be they who will have had the last laugh. For Jose, meanwhile, it’s just not funny any more.

Culled from goal.com


Mario Balotelli is ‘unmanageable’ – ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard agrees with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho that Mario Balotelli is “unmanageable.”

Balotelli, 25, has been loaned to AC Milan after struggling to make an impact at Liverpool following his move from the San Siro in 2014 — and he impressed in the Milan derby on Sunday night despite a 1-0 loss to Inter.

The Italy international played under Mourinho when the Portuguese was in charge of Inter Milan, and in 2010 he warned clubs about his poor attitude.

Gerrard said in his book “My Story,” which is being serialised in the Daily Mail: “After his promising debut against Tottenham, he had lapsed in training and the subsequent games. His demeanour was very poor. I made my up mind pretty quickly after that about Balotelli.

“We got on fine. I still tried to help him and I kept looking for chances to praise him but I could see why Mourinho had been right when he said Balotelli is unmanageable.

“He is very talented with the potential to be world class, but he’ll never get there because of his mentality and the people around him. Balotelli’s always late, he always wants attention.”

Gerrard was unimpressed with the way Balotelli, who has scored four goals in 28 appearances for Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, conducted himself in training.

The LA Galaxy midfielder said: “He made an immediate impression when we were doing work on our defensive set pieces and Balotelli said to Brendan: ‘I don’t mark on corners. I can’t.’

“I nearly fell into the goalpost. I was thinking, ‘What are you? 6-foot-3, and one of the strongest men I’ve ever seen on a football pitch? And you can’t mark on a corner?’

“Brendan was very firm. He said to Balotelli: ‘Well, you can now — and if you can’t then you’re going to learn.’

“That was the first conflict between Brendan and Balotelli, on day one, but the manager stood up to Mario really well. From that point, Balotelli started marking on corners.”

The ex-England captain added: “In my last season, Brendan Rodgers came to me at Melwood one day in mid-August. We had a chat on the training pitch.

“He said, ‘You know we’ve missed out on a couple of signings. I’m basically left with no option but to have a bit of a gamble.’

“Brendan paused before he spoke again: ‘The gamble is Mario Balotelli.’ My instant reaction was, ‘Uh-oh.’ I’d never met Balotelli but I’d heard all the stories about the indoor fireworks and Jose Mourinho describing him as an ‘unmanageable’ player.

“I could see that, in the right mood, he was a quality footballer but the rest of his career seemed like a spectacular waste of talent. That was my opinion of Balotelli.”

‘I’m happy to be back’ – Balotelli completes AC Milan medical

The striker says he is desperate to enjoy a successful season at San Siro after agreeing to return on a loan deal from Liverpool

'I'm happy to be back' - Balotelli completes AC Milan medical

Mario Balotelli says he is happy to be back in Serie A after completing a medical ahead of a loan switch to AC Milan.

The Italy international arrived in the city early on Tuesday as he prepares to finalise a season-long loan move back to San Siro from Liverpool.

Speaking to reporters outside the La Madonnina clinic, he said: “I’m happy to be back.

“I’m fit, I just need to train with my team-mates. I don’t want want to talk too much, I’m only focused on working hard because I want to have a good season.”

The 25-year-old, who grew up in Brescia, dispelled suggestions that he felt like he was coming home, however.

“No, my home is in Brescia,” he said simply.

Balotelli, who scored just once in 16 Premier League appearances last season, has been frozen out of Brendan Rodgers’ plans at Liverpool.

The former Manchester City man scored 30 goals in 54 appearances during his first spell with Milan between 2012 and 2014.

Joaquin begs Fiorentina: Let me go home to Betis

The former Spain international has revealed that he is heartbroken that the Viola will not agree to his desire to be reunited with his family in Spain

Joaquin begs Fiorentina: Let me go home to Betis

Joaquin has made an impassioned plea to Fiorentina to let him go “home” to Real Betis.

The Spain international, who arrived in Florence from Malaga in 2013, is a crowd favourite at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and still has a year to run on his contract with the Viola.

However, he was left out of Paulo Sousa’s squad for Sunday’s Serie A opener at home to AC Milan as he is desperate to be allowed to rejoin Betis, where he started his professional career.

“I can no longer player for Fiorentina,” the winger told Firenzeviola.it.

“I’m not enjoying this moment because I would never have thought that a situation like this could be created at the end of my career.

“The truth is that I have been on the market since last year, when I was training away from the rest of the group.

“What I don’t understand is why they have now changed their mind.

“Nobody can decide for me. I want to be happy and that will only be in Seville, in my home.

“I would like to do this also for the good of the team, because I would not be able to play with this feeling inside.

“I’m being treated well here because the coach would like me to stay. I understand him but the situation has reached a point of no logic. It would no longer make sense for me to stay going forward.

“I’ve been wanting to return to Betis for five years. This is a matter of the heart, as my family is waiting there for me. It’s a question of blood and football.

“I always showed that I wanted to play for Fiorentina before, just like now I’m showing that I want to leave.

“Why must they take away my happiness?”

Why Pogba’s No.10 shirt could be pivotal moment for player, Juventus & the transfer market

The Bianconeri hope that making the Frenchman their new No.10 will let Barcelona and Manchester City know that the midfield ace will remain in Turin for years to come

Why Pogba's No.10 shirt could be pivotal moment for player, Juventus & the transfer market

Earlier this summer, Sir Alex Ferguson advised Juventus to cash in on Paul Pogba. “I would sell him,” the former Manchester United boss told Tuttosport. “It’s true I let him go before but I would let him go.”

The Bianconeri refused to listen to the Scot, no doubt reluctant to take the advice of a man who had allowed the most promising midfielder to leave Old Trafford for nothing. Ferguson may not appreciate Pogba’s value, even now – but Juventus certainly do. Hence, Thursday’s announcement that the Frenchman will be their new No.10.

The jersey holds a mythical status in Turin. Omar Sivori, Fabio Capello, Liam Brady, Roberto Baggio, Alessandro Del Piero, Carlos Tevez – the players to have worn the Bianconero No.10 essentially reads as a shortlist of the most influential players in the club’s history. Thus, deciding who should wear the shirt is never taken lightly. It is a carefully considered move – and it has been no different this time around.

Pogba, as has been well documented, is one of the most sought-after individuals in world football. Barcelona, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain – all of the game’s richest clubs have an interest in signing the 22-year-old. Indeed, so intense is the competition, so high are the stakes, that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has admitted that even the Roman Abramovich-funded Blues have no chance of landing Pogba.

“I think everybody has an interest in Pogba,” the Portuguese told reporters on July 19, “but there are things you can do and things you cannot do. I love the Eiffel Tower but I can’t have the Eiffel Tower in my garden. I can’t even have the Eiffel Tower of Las Vegas!”

Mourinho may have had a not-so-hidden agenda in that instance, cheekily suggesting that Abramovich needs to loosen the purse strings once more in order to land the game’s elite players, but his appraisal underlines just how highly Pogba is regarded. Indeed, while Dutch icon Johan Cruyff may not believe the hype surrounding Pogba, dismissing Barca’s €80 million bid as “absurd”, but Juve fully appreciate his value to Massimiliano Allegri’s team – and the club’s marketing department.

After arriving in Turin in 2012, Pogba quickly set about proving himself one of the most promising young talents in the world, forcing then-coach Antonio Conte to start experimenting with Claudio Marchisio as a trequartista because the new arrival had become undroppable, an integral member of Juve’s midfield three.

Pogba’s influence has only increased in the intervening years and now, following the summer departures of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Tevez, the Frenchman is now undoubtedly Juve’s most important player. Giving him the No.10 jersey only reinforces that impression; reinforces that fact. Indeed, Pogba was a pivotal player even with the No.6 on his back but now he will be clearly identifiable as the team’s lynchpin, their star man – and the Bianconeri are going to sell many more Pogba shirts as a result.

It is also a significant switch for the midfielder on a personal level. This is not a man who runs away from pressure but embraces it; seeks it out.

Even before it was announced that he would be given the No.10 shirt, Pogba spoke openly of his desire to fill the void left by Vidal, a prolific presence in the Juve midfield. He wants more responsibility. Now he has got it.

The change of shirt number will not necessarily mean a change of role, though.

Massimiliano Allegri has toyed with the idea of deploying Pogba as a trequartista at regular intervals since succeeding Conte at the helm last year but he wants a specialist No.10. Hence, Juve will continue their pursuit of a classic attacking midfielder, with the club set to step up their bid to sign the versatile Julian Draxler from Schalke after their Supercoppa Italiana showdown with Lazio in China.

In that game, though, all eyes will be on Juve’s most prized possession.

The Bianconeri have made a clear statement of intent, sent an unequivocal message to their rivals: Pogba is Juve’s new No.10 – and will be for many years to come.

REVEALED: Real Madrid wanted ‘fear’ clause in Morata Juventus deal

Juventus striker Alvaro Morata is free to face Real Madrid in their Champions League semi next month.


Morata left Real for Juve last summer.

AS says Real attempted to insert a clause which would see the player being unable to play in any competitive matches involving both clubs.

They also wanted to add another clause that would forbid the Italian side from selling Morata to Madrid’s eternal rivals, FC Barcelona.

However, UEFA refuse to recognise such clauses and the options were eventually rejected.

Carlo Ancelotti Rules Out Return To Serie A And Slams ‘Brainless’ Italian Fans

Carlo Ancelotti says he has no interest in ever working in Serie A again because of the country’s ‘brainless fans’ and ’empty stadiums’.

Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti says he has no interest in ever working in Serie A again because of the country’s “brainless fans” and “empty stadiums”.

The Real Madrid coach claims the country’s supporters have too much power. The 55-year-old left his homeland in 2009 to take charge of Chelsea after an eight-season spell with AC Milan, during which he won the Champions League twice and one Serie A title.

However, he has yet return, having since enjoyed successful spells at Paris Saint-Germain and now, Real Madrid.

Ancelotti is continually linked with top jobs in Italy, as well as the role of national team coach, but the former Azzurri midfielder revealed he has no desire to return home.

“Before I left Italy I thought about things, it was not easy, but I’ve felt comfortable abroad,” he told Radio Rai. “I would not return.

“Italian football is still very competitive. The difference is the environment.

“The stadiums are empty compared to other countries and the violence is more common in Italy than other places.

“What happened in Cagliari, Roma and Varese is very sad. It can no longer be that the players are hostages to brainless fans.

“Here [in Spain], the demonstrations are limited only to the whistles in the stadium. The ultras and the banners no longer exist.

“But it’s not this that keeps me away, so much as the pleasure that comes from living a foreign adventure and getting to know other sporting cultures.”