Both Rafael Benitez and Roberto Mancini have long been on the proverbial hot seat with Champion’s League qualifications seemingly the only way to save their jobs. Benitez has recently struck out at the British media for the constant stream of “rumors” about his possible departure to Liverpool and long list of possible replacements for the Spanish skipper. Liverpool has not offered any public backing for the embattled manager and many think he will leave or be fired should Liverpool finish outside of a Champion’s League spot.
“I don’t like the (Juventus) rumors, I would like to see news in the press about trophies or goals or fantastic performances by players, but you cannot control everything,” said Benitez, according to ESPN. “I have spent a year listening to names like Martin O’Neill, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klinsmann and Frank Rijkaard (being linked with his job), but I’ve just kept doing my job.” Liverpool faces Athletico Madrid in a Europa League Semi-final in which they must overturn a 1-0 deficit and don’t have the benefit of an away goal.
Roberto Mancini is taking a decidedly more optimistic approach in his outlook. Like Benitez, it is widely expected that Mancini will need to lead Manchester City to Champion’s League qualification if he is to mantain his job. Mancini replaced Mark Hughes midway through the season but public clashes with some of his marquee players and a recent string of bad results has reawakened the rumors about his future.
“When you work with a team in pre-season it is easier to do your job. I imagine I will still be Manchester City manager. I hope so. I have a contract. I don’t decide but I think I will be,” said Mancini. City trail Tottenham by a point with three games to play and face a tough schedule with Aston Villa, Tottenham and West Ham United still on the dockett.
Blackburn Boss Alardyce Wants 39th Game.
The debate over the addition of a 39th Premier League game to be played in international venues raged last year with the Premier League being in staunch opposition of the measure. Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce has reawakened the debate by calling the 39th game “an absolute must.” Allardyce cited purely fiscal reasons for playing league games internationally, with the United States being of the main targets. ”The 39th game is an absolute must. We have to make it work, get over the bureaucracy and look after our product. Every top country in Europe wants what we’ve got. Italy, Spain and Germany are jealous of us and the UEFA president Michel Platini cannot hide his jealousy. It’s so important we stay ahead of everyone else and the 39th game will keep us there. Let’s get it back on the agenda,” said Alardyce.
The NFL began playing regular season games at Wembley stadium a few years ago. It has been a fiscal success and risen the awareness of the American league worldwide. “We should all ask ourselves a few questions about what’s important. Do we like working in the Premier League? The answer is yes. It’s the top league in the world with the best entertainment. Would we like to keep the product safe? Yes. Do we like the money it brings in? Yes. Would we like to protect that? Yes.”
Pulis Furious Over “Mole” In Stoke City Dressing Room
The highly publicized dressing-room confrontation between Stoke City Captain Abdoulaye Faye and Glenn Whealan after City were embarrassed 7-0 by Chelsea has caused confidentiality concerns for Stoke City skipper Tony Pulis. According to reports coming out of the British media Pulis is having difficulty maintaining control over his locker room with Tuncay Sanil and Dave Kitson swearing at their manager after they were substituted.
“We have no concrete evidence who it is but we are desperately disappointed because the dressing room is a good dressing room,” Pulis said. Stoke City have successfully secured Premier League status for next season but Pulis desperately wants to find the leak. “Everything that happens in the dressing room should stay in the dressing room and unfortunately it hasn’t. Ever since I started professional football at 15 there was always that togetherness and solidarity in the dressing room – it is a sanctuary.”
Premier League Clarifies “Weakened Side” Rules
The Premier League has finally issued a clarification to when clubs are allowed to field “weaker sides” in order to rest players for upcoming fixtures. The issue arose earlier this season when the Wolverhampton Wanderers trotted out what amounted to a team of reserves against Manchester United. Wolves were given a fine for fielding a side that had no chance of competing.
West Ham United filed a complaint against Fulham earlier this month when the Cottagers rested key players against Hull City ahead of their quarter-final Europa League clash with Wolfsburg. At that point the Hammers were very much in a relegation battle with Hull City and an easy victory for the Tigers could have meant relegation for West Ham. The Premier League has informed West Ham’s co-owner David Sullivan that no discipline will be imposed on Fulham because “clubs are permitted to rest players if they have had a number of games in quick succession.”
“Even if our complaint was not upheld, we are extremely pleased the rule has been clarified and we know now the position,” Sullivan told ESPN Soccernet. “We all now know that if players have had a number of quick games its now accepted that they can be rested.”