Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Would Mourinho face a predicament at Chelsea?

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If the coaching merry-go-round puts Jose Mourinho back in the Chelsea hotseat after the 49-year old Portuguese left Stamford Bridge in 2007, it will be a testament to the old saying that nothing is impossible in football.

There seemed to be no way back for the self-acclaimed “Special One” after his acrimonious split with Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich, but their contrasting fortunes since have seemingly opened the door to what would be a spectacular return to English football for Mourinho.

However, if the speculation linking him with a comeback turns out to be true, it might end up an ill-judged failure.

Having won two successive league titles, the Italian Cup and the Champions League with Inter Milan, Mourinho is now in a commanding position to win the Spanish league title with Real Madrid and possibly break Barcelona’s stranglehold on Europe’s premier club competition too.

Who next for Chelsea hot seat?

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Arguably the hottest of hot seats in soccer is vacant yet again after Chelsea’s ruthless Russian owner Roman Abramovich removed Andre Villas-Boas on Sunday.

The callow Portuguese lasted just 256 days at Stamford Bridge before “the project”, as he usually referred to the task of revitalising the west London club’s ageing squad, was aborted.

The cat flashes his claws

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Karim Benzema has shrugged off the disparaging label of being Real Madrid’s pussycat and turned himself into a fearsome feline under Jose Mourinho.

In the space of a year, the 24-year-old has gone from expensive bench warmer to first-choice leader of the line at the world’s richest club by revenue, and won over a skeptical coach.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Why Chelsea should keep Andre Villas-Boas

Three Premier League defeats in four games and Champions League last 16 qualification compromised. The last few weeks have been very tough for Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas.

Previous managers Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti were dismissed seemingly for less by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Real fans still in love with controversial Mourinho

Jose Mourinho was given a rapturous reception by the Real Madrid faithful when his side entertained Galatasaray in a friendly on Wednesday.

It was a show of unity likely to leave club president Florentino Perez in no doubt that whatever reservations he might have over his stubbornly controversial coach the majority of Madrid supporters love him.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Thursday – Champions League recap

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Where to start after four brilliant Champions League quarter-finals, even if the intrigue for next week's second legs has all but gone from three of the ties with Barcelona leading Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1, Real Madrid 4-0 up against Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke 04 in total charge against holders Inter Milan after the 5-2 triumph at the San Siro.

However, the appetite has most certainly been whet for the very probable 'Clasico' semi-final between Real and Barcelona, a meeting of the world's two best players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. April 26 or 27 and May 3 or 4. Do not miss these dates. Not that Spain's two leading clubs are thinking that far ahead.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Friday

SOCCER-WORLDThe first day of the fourth month means April fools day, so we would really love to hear from you if there are any dubious stories doing the rounds.

Here are some. Frank Lampard’s ‘goal that never was’ at the World Cup is to be finally given. Ronaldo will start playing for Spain. And here is a list of five other classics from the past.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Messi’s FIFA Ballon d’Or award is still a victory for team football

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It's strange that when 2009 winner Lionel Messi was awarded the combined FIFA Ballon d'Or award on Monday there was shock in the Zurich auditorium and around the globe.

He is clearly the best player in the world but most fans and pundits had expected one of Barcelona team mates and Spain World Cup winners Andres Iniesta or Xavi to take the prize.    

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Five things we learned, or had confirmed, in Monday’s “Clasico”

SOCCER-SPAIN/CLASICO1. Lionel Messi is a more effective “big game player” than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese may be the world’s most expensive player but Argentina forward Messi has got the better of the man whom he succeeded as World Player of the Year on their last four meetings.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Who will be Mourinho’s Milito this year?

Should Real Madrid have stepped in and taken Zlatan Ibrahimovic off Barcelona’s hands instead of AC Milan?

Perhaps a preposterous idea, but after the opening round of matches in La Liga, Real may be concerned they did not heed coach Jose Mourinho’s warnings about the need for a third striker.

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