Jose Mourinho has revealed he and Sir Bobby Robson came close to bringing Thierry Henry to Barcelona early in his career.
The Chelsea manager revealed on the day Henry announced his retirement that the France striker came within "an inch" of moving to the Nou Camp from Monaco, but instead went to Juventus in 1999.
"When I was an assistant in Barcelona with Mr [Bobby] Robson in 1996 [we tried to sign him]. He was in Monaco and he went to Juventus, we lost him by an inch," Mourinho told talkSPORT. "After that he was not on my radar because it was never a possibility to come to my teams. Could you imagine in that moment leaving Arsenal to come to Chelsea? I wouldn't imagine that.
"He's the kind of player that you need forever, especially in the Premier League where he was more than any other place.
"He was okay in Barcelona and the [France] national team, but the real Thierry Henry, the player that we are all going to miss forever, is the one that made unbelievable seasons and incredible history in the Premier League."
Mourinho is not intending to delve into the transfer market next month, but feared he might have to when Kurt Zouma was injured in Tuesday night's Capital One Cup quarterfinal win at Derby.
"When I saw Zouma I was scared," said Mourinho, who revealed the France defender is now fine. "We can't lose players for a long period of time. Happily for us and for the kid, no. We are a short squad, but a squad of good players.
"Our project is to start and to finish the season with these players. Nobody to leave, nobody to come."
I'll tell you what he wants, what he really, really wants... Radamel Falcao is desperate to stay at Manchester United despite becoming a bit-part player for Louis van Gaal, and determined to earn a starting role at Old Trafford.
The Colombian has started just three games on loan from Monaco -- scoring one goal -- with Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and even young James Wilson all ahead of him in the pecking order.
The 28-year-old said on Wednesday: "I really want to stay... I'm almost at 100 percent now. Let's wait and see what the decision of the coach is, when he wants to use me more."
With a busy festive fixture list and plenty of games to go around, it would be no surprise to see Falcao starting before too long. Still, with each passing week that Rooney and Van Persie continue to score, that reported 43.5 million-pound future fee begins to look more "optional" by the day for the Premier League title chasers.
The French are not known for being particularly good at suspense. We are quite a predictable bunch as my British wife will often remind me.
Our back catalogue of films consist of many a twisted love story with a psychological edge, our best writers philosophize and give social commentary and our general elections are a one horse race where politicians make predictable comebacks. However our football is different. We've done suspense pretty well over the last few years, even more so this year.
"Masters of Suspense" was L'Equipe's front page headline on Tuesday. If there is so much excitement in France around Ligue 1 at the moment, to the point that L'Equipe dedicates its front page to the title race instead of on the Champions League draw, it's because it is fascinating right now.
Ligue 1 is currently offering the best title race of the five big European Leagues. More than in England's Premier League (Chelsea and City) or Italy' Serie A (Juventus and Roma) where only two teams will realistically fight until the end for the title. Better than Germany's Bundesliga where Bayern are already champions or Spain's La Liga where Real Madrid look unbeatable even as they compete with Barcelona (four points behind) and current title holders Atletico Madrid (seven adrift).
With just one week to go before the winter break, the top three of Ligue 1 (Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon) are only separated by two points in a league with many twists and turns.
The French league is good and even better than last Christmas. Last season, PSG, Monaco and Lille (in this order) were all within four points of each other before Santa Claus came to town.
It is incredible because nobody, even not the most optimistic Marseille or Lyon fan and the most pessimistic PSG one, would have predicted such ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
The way a manager attempts to solve unwelcome problems can be revealing.
With Dani Alves unavailable for selection against Paris Saint-Germain last week, Luis Enrique's tactical response reflected his priorities as a coach. The Barcelona boss avoided trying to replace Alves directly and instead saw an opportunity to aid the players his side rely on most. After half a season it is now becoming clear that Enrique's Barça is one built on strikers, a significant shift from the Barça built on midfielders that produced one of its finest collective displays almost three years ago to the day.
Wins at the Santiago Bernabéu and Wembley Stadium may be better remembered, but it was the 4-0 Club World Cup triumph over Santos on December 18th 2011 that best exemplified the principles Pep Guardiola's Barça were founded on. Following the game the awe-struck Catalan questioned whether his players were conscious of what they had achieved. Their manager certainly was. In Pep Confidential, he told Marti Perarnau that the performance was his Barça's "all-time peak", and when it comes to carrying out his ideas as a coach to the finest detail, it is hard to disagree.
In the semifinal of the competition, Barcelona lost David Villa to a leg break, before replacement Alexis Sanchez picked up a muscle injury of his own. As was the case with Enrique last week, Guardiola's reaction reflected his priorities. He opted for an unconventional solution, one that Santos coach Muricy Ramalho labelled a "3-7-0." Instead of replacing the absent forwards, Guardiola made the bold move of abandoning the use of pure forwards altogether, adding more of the players he favoured most: midfielders.
Along with the habitual presence of Victor Valdés in goal, Barcelona's lineup against Santos started with a back three of Éric Abidal, Gerard Piqué and Carles Puyol. In front of ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Tottenham supporters, and indeed the general world of football, consider Spurs a walking punchline. A club where everything that can go wrong generally does.
Wednesday was one of those rare nights when everything went right, from the match that the team won to the draw for the semifinals in which they drew Sheffield United rather than Chelsea or Liverpool.
The result came at the expense of an under-strength Newcastle team that collapsed in the second-half after an opening 45 minutes in which they gave the home side a good game. It was only a blunder from young keeper Jak Alnwick that presented Nabil Bentaleb the opportunity to give Spurs the lead. Newcastle had chances before and after to get on the scoresheet but never did.
Both sides shuffled the pack as they approach a loaded schedule, and it was the quality in depth of the Spurs squad that shone. Of the "reserves," Michel Vorm had a good game in goal, Benjamin Stambouli impressed in midfield, while first-team regular Nacer Chadli delivered the killer blow with a goal just after halftime.
Harry Kane and Roberto Soldado made it 4-0, allowing manager Mauricio Pochettino to give players a rest ahead of the game against Burnley at the weekend.
Dec 18 2014
Real Madrid cruised into the final of the FIFA Club World Cup thanks to a resounding 4-0 victory over Mexican side Cruz Azul in Morocco. Goals from Sergio Ramos, the man who helped Madrid become European champions thanks to his stoppage-time equaliser against Atletico Madrid in Lisbon, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Isco saw Carlo Ancelotti's men progress thanks to their 21st straight win in all competitions.
Cristiano Ronaldo could not get his name on the score sheet, but the Portuguese star was crucial, providing two assists to ensure only Atletico Madrid's Koke has more in Spanish football this season. The Spaniard has 13 compared to Ronaldo's 12 in all competitions. Ronaldo almost scored in emphatic fashion with an ambitious "Rabona," highlighting the ease with which Madrid won in Marrakesh.
The La Liga leaders were not without their problems, however, and Iker Casillas came to the rescue with a second penalty save in as many matches with the score at 2-0. Madrid's captain was busier than he would have liked in the first half, but Madrid also had a sense of full control and will go into Saturday's final, against either San Lorenzo or Auckland City, at full speed.
GK Iker Casillas, 8 -- The score line suggests Casillas did not have a lot to do, but the Madrid captain made some key saves at key moments. He denied Gerardo Torrado from the penalty spot with his side 2-0 up to become the first goalkeeper to save penalties in the World Cup for both club and country. It was his second successive spot-kick save after his heroics against Almeria last Friday in the league. He also thwarted Mariano Pavone in a one-on-one minutes later, although the Cruz Azul forward fluffed his lines. Casillas did well to deny the same player from a low ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus has been fined 540,000 euros (426,000 pounds) for repeatedly driving without a licence, reports Bild.
The Germany international received the penalty order by Dortmund prosecution two week ago, according to the newspaper.
Earlier this year, Reus was asked for identification by local price when driving through the Ruhr city, but could not produce a driver's license.
Police checked with their headquarters, who confirmed that the Dortmund attacker was not in possession of a driving licence, Bild claims.
While Reus was fined for speeding five times, it was not known that he was not eligible to drive.
"The defendant has been charged with driving without a driving license in six cases," a Dortmund chief prosecutor said, and added that he has been fined 90 daily fines with the total reaching 540,000 euros.
Reus, who will accept the penalty order according to the report, said: "Today I know that I have been way too naive in the situation.
"That was a stupidity. I have drawn my lessons from it. Something like that will never happen to me again."
The Germany international added that he started taking driving lessons at the age of 18, but did not take a test. "Sadly, that was my decision at that time. I am not able to comprehend the reasons today," he said.
FIFA has been accused of overseeing a "new failure" after Michael Garcia, the man in charge of investigating the World Cup, quit his post.
American lawyer Garcia resigned as chairman of the investigatory chamber of FIFA's independent ethics committee after losing his appeal challenging the findings to clear Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
UEFA president Michel Platini described Garcia's resignation as a "failure" for FIFA.
Platini said: "FIFA's ethics committee was created to increase transparency at the organisation, that's what we wanted, but in the end it has just caused more confusion. Mr. Garcia's resignation is a new failure for FIFA."
Garcia issued a statement criticising FIFA's "lack of leadership" and saying he cannot change the culture of the world governing body.
It comes after he discovered on Tuesday that he had lost his appeal against the findings by ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.
Garcia's statement adds: "The appeal committee also overlooked the Eckert decision's self-described 'findings', including one stating that 'the evaluation of the 2018-2022 FIFA World Cups bidding process is closed for the FIFA ethics committee'.
"FIFA president [Sepp] Blatter recently reaffirmed that 'finding' during an interview published by FIFA, stating: 'Furthermore, there is no change to Judge Eckert's statement that the investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups is concluded.'
"I disagree with the appeal committee's decision. It now appears that, at least for the foreseeable future, the Eckert decision will stand as the final word on the 2018-2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process."
Garcia's investigation into the bidding had seen him deliver a 430-page report to Eckert, and FIFA's executive committee meeting in Marrakesh on Thursday and Friday are due to vote on whether that should be published but with the names redacted.
Garcia himself called for his report to be published back in ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Jurgen Klopp has praised the Borussia Dortmund supporters following Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Wolfsburg and said he will miss them when he is no longer in charge of the club.
Dortmund had to settle for a point at the Westfalenstadion, despite taking the lead twice and having had a number of chances to seal their third consecutive home win in the Bundesliga.
An 85th-minute header from unmarked centre-back Naldo secured a draw for Wolfsburg and left BVB in 16th -- the relegation playoff place -- with only one game left before the winter break.
But despite Dortmund's troubles, the sold-out Westfalenstadion not only roared on their players during the match but also applauded the squad after the final whistle -- something many of the fans have done throughout the first half of the season.
On his way back to the dressing room after taking in chants of his name from the stands, the Dortmund boss turned around and bowed to the fans.
"This was the last home game [before the winter break]," Klopp told a news conference. "And there might come a time in my life when I am no longer the coach of this team. But what I know already is that I will miss them.
"It's just extraordinary what the fans do here. That's just fantastic. There are several stadiums with a great atmosphere in the world, but only a few who go wild like that when you are 16th."
Over the last few weeks, Klopp has dropped hints that his time at the Westfalenstadion may soon come to an end. In October 2013, the Dortmund boss signed a new contract which runs until 2018.
Klopp has been backed by the board despite the club's struggles on the pitch, but in November he hinted he would be open to managing in the Premier League, and called ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Xavi Hernandez has told El Pais he would like to follow in the managerial footsteps of Pep Guardiola and coach Barcelona.
Xavi is contracted at the Camp Nou until 2016 but has admitted his playing days are drawing to an end.
The 34-year-old succeeded Guardiola as one of Barca's key players, and the midfielder has his sights on becoming a manager.
Guardiola led the Spanish club to several trophies, including three Liga titles, and is now in charge of Bayern Munich.
"Hopefully I can [follow Guardiola] and even more so in my home here," Xavi is quoted by Reuters as having told El Pais.
"My playing days are numbered, that is clear. I can feel it in my body as it is difficult for me to recover and I need to measure how much effort I am putting in.
"I don't have the same sharpness to play every three days any more."
Xavi also spoke about the pressure he felt when being compared to Guardiola as he made his breakthrough in the Barcelona first team.
"Everyone was saying I was going to be the new hero and it was tough. This made a difference to me as it meant I went out trying to be my own person while everyone else said I was the new Guardiola," he said.
"You grow up quickly as footballers as you are being judged all the time. It is life, and it is the case from when you are young."
Xavi retired from the Spain national side after their disappointing 2014 World Cup, but revealed he also considered parting company with La Roja after their Euro 2012 glory.
"I told him: 'I am not enjoying it as much now, it is time for someone else,' but he said: 'come on are you depressed?'" Xavi added.
"I told him I had thought about it a lot but ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)