I’m going to wrap up now as I need to go and spy on a rival football blog. Be sure to check back in on the site later to follow updates from Leeds v Derby with our minute-by-minute report. It should be extra spicy. Thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend.
Benjamin Oates has put forward another five footballers who should be at least 35:
- Aaron Lennon (31)
- James Vaughan (30)
- Niko Kranjcar (34)
- Paddy Madden (28)
- Vincent Kompany (32)
And for some reason, Brian Hudner has spent the afternoon reimagining the Liverpool team with a series of local bands and artists.
Echo and Bunnymignolet
Orchestral Manhoevers in the Dark
Gini and the Pacemakers
Billy J Kramer and the Dekeitas
Half Mané Half Biscuit
My main problem with this, is that Virgil van Dijk, Allison and Mo Salah miss out.
Mauricio Pochettino has been in good form today, enthusiastically talking about Argentinian football spies, why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave him great memories when Manchester United won the treble in 1999 and how Christian Eriksen reminds him of his faithful Rhodesian Ridgeback. Eriksen has been biding his time on signing a new deal amid reported interest from Real Madrid:
Christian is a very special person and you need to give him freedom, like on the pitch. You cannot put him in a box. You need to give freedom and trust him. Like my dog, in the park. I trust my dog. I say, ‘Go, I trust you’. And Christian is a very clever person and of course there’s going to be a decision from him, from the club, from different parts and I hope he can be committed to the club long-term. We hope that he can be here for a long time. I think Christian is a fantastic player. I was in Copenhagen in the summer. I spent time with Jesus (Perez), my wife and Christian – very nice restaurant. We all hope that Christian will agree with the club a long-term contract because he’s a great player.
And here’s what Pochettino had to say about Solskjaer’s exploits at the Nou Camp in 1999:
I remember him when he scored the second goal in the injury-time and how I shouted the goal of Manchester United, that was unbelievable. We were neutral people watching a fantastic game. I have good memories of him. On Sunday we are going to meet at Wembley when 20 years ago I was shouting a goal that he scored for Manchester United and now we are going to play them at Wembley.
And does Pochettino think Solskjaer will have added motivation to beat him, given that the Spurs manager is the favourite to succeed him:
The motivation is always going to be there. Of course when you’re a manager or coach you cannot be focused on all the rumours. The most important thing is the motivation that we have to do our job in our best way. Of course Manchester is going to come on Sunday trying to win. Of course for him it’s a massive motivation or challenge to manage Manchester United, like for me it’s a massive challenge to be in front for this football club, Tottenham. Always the motivation is to win because we’re so competitive. We’re people that love to win and hate to lose, and always when you play a friendly game or a competitive game like Sunday always it’s about winning.
You want more match previews? Take two helpings then, go on:
So, what have Leeds had to say about the Derby spying accusations then? Yes, that’s the sound of silence.
Cesc Fàbregas will be confirmed as a Monaco player in the next few hours, according to L’Equipe, which means he would be available to play against Marseille on Sunday evening. Thierry Henry could really do with freshening his squad up having overseen only two league wins since he took over on 13 October. He’s been linked with a move for Michy Batshuayi too, also of Chelsea but who is on loan at Valencia. And how is Fàbregas only 31? I swear he made his Arsenal debut when poll tax was the big political issue of the day.
He’s in my top five of players who should at least be 35:
1) Lee Cattermole (only 30!)
2) Cesc Fàbregas (still only 31)
3) Diego Costa (still only 30)
4) Phil Jones (26 years of age, yup)
5) Thomas Müller (he’s 29!)
There was only ever going to be one subject for The Fiver to write about this afternoon. So here’s our (sometimes) funny and (always) free (occasionally) tea-timely football email’s take on the Leeds v Derby spying row:
And why not sign up for The Fiver here if you haven’t done so already:
Pep Guardiola has said Manchester City will do all they can to support Gabriel Jesus after the 21-year-old’ striker’s family had to fly back to Brazil after their visas expired. Here’s Jamie Jackson’s story:
If you thought the Derby-Leeds spy row was weird, get on to this from Palermo. The Serie B leaders have denied that former Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth is their new sporting director.
In relation to some news reported today by local newspapers, the U.S. Città di Palermo announces that no changes have been made to the position of Director of the Technical Area of the Club which remains entrusted to Mr Rino Foschi, who keeps his position. At the same time, it is specified that Mr Dean Holdsworth is a consultant for Global Futures Sports Ltd in the staff of Mr Clive Richardson.
It was announced on Saturday 29 December that Sport Capital Group Investments Ltd had completed a takeover of Palermo. The consortium involves Clive Richardson, who was part of the Global Futures Sports venture, for whom Dean Holdsworth is an advisor.
Wayne Hennessey has the full backing of Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson who insists the Wales goalkeeper did not make a Nazi salute during a night out. Hennessey appeared to perform the gesture in a picture posted on Instagram by Eagles teammate Max Meyer as the players celebrated their FA Cup win against Grimsby on Saturday.
The 31-year-old denied doing so, instead claiming on Twitter that he was calling out to the person taking the photograph “to get on with it” and “at the same time put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry”.
The Football Association is looking into the incident, but Hodgson is convinced by the player’s explanation.
I believe him totally. I have no reason to disbelieve him,” the Palace boss said. The other players had no awareness of anything inappropriate, so much so that they had no idea before the photo was posted that it had happened. Wayne has explained himself very satisfactorily to both me and the club. I know Wayne, I know the type of man he is and I have no hesitation whatsoever in backing him and backing his version of the story.
Hodgson also denied making any move for Jermain Defoe, after the striker claimed that he rejected a move to Selhurst Park in favour of joining Rangers.
That’s not true. We had no interest in Jermain Defoe. As with a number of strikers, I saw Defoe’s name mentioned in relation to the club.
Nathaniel Clyne has channelled his inner John Lennon in this conciliatory response to Neil Warnock over his decision to join Bournemouth over Cardiff.
My intention wasn’t to hurt anyone. It’s down to footballing reasons. Me and Neil Warnock have a good relationship. I enjoyed working with him at Crystal Palace and I have a lot of respect for the man.
Get your West Ham v Arsenal team news here! What kind of reception will Marko Arnautović get from the home fans after his agent said he wants to be allowed to leave and
challenge for titles in China?
trouser loads of cash
Not surprisingly, Jürgen Klopp has been named Premier League manager of the month for December and Virgil Van Dijk has gobbled up the player-of-the-month gong. A defender has not won the player-of-the-month award since March 2013, when Jan Vertonghen took it home. Look at Virgil, making defending cool again.
“Today’s spying row is tremendous fun of course,” writes David Hopkins. “However, how much more fun would it have been had these still been the days of the Clough v Revie rivalry? I’m sure Frank Lampard can raise his voice when he needs to, but imagine what fun Mr Clough would have had with it.” I expect Clough would have stormed into the Leeds dressing room with a stepladder and checked for bugs before throttling Bielsa had he been in charge of Derby .
Over to Spain now, where Real Madrid are in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League. It’s unthinkable, right? Well, it would be if they were playing well, but as our Spanish football correspondent Sid Lowe detailed recently, they’re just not very good. Madrid, in fifth, play sixth-placed Real Betis away tomorrow. Betis are breathing down their neck. Solari will probably be grateful that the game is away as the atmosphere at the Bernabéu in recent games has been one of resignation. Madrid beat Leganes 3-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey last 16 on Wednesday. But there was still no starting place for Isco despite injuries to key players. Here’s what he had to say about that:
“There’s 24 players and my duty is to pick the players. It’s not the most pleasant duty. Why Isco didn’t play today as starter? Today we made a big game.
The Betis match is bigger, so we can probably expect Isco to sit on the bench again for that one.
A short history of some other spying rows in football
Genoa coach ‘hid like Rambo’ to spy on rivals
Back in 2013, Italian side Genoa suspended one of their coaches after he was found spying on a training session held by city rivals Sampdoria. Luca De Pra, a youth-team coach, was said to be hiding in bushes while dressed in camouflage gear. In a statement, Sampdoria said De Pra was hiding like “Rambo under a tree”. Genoa, who denied any knowledge of De Pra’s activities, won the ensuing match 3-0.
Man detained ahead of England World Cup semi-final
A man was arrested ahead of England’s World Cup semi-final against Croatia last summer, suspected of spying on Gareth Southgate’s side. The man was accused of acting suspiciously on a roof, 180 metres away from England’s training base. He was asked to delete panorama photos and then released without charge.
Honduras send up the drones
Honduras accused Australia of spying on their training session before the second leg of their World Cup 2018 playoff match. “Australia spy on the official training of the Honduras team from a drone; this caused discontent amongst the team and its representatives” said a tweet from the Honduran Football Federation. It’s was not the first time Honduras had been spooked by drones. According to Honduran newspaper La Prensa, the national team flew defence drones of their own in 2016 to ensure their training sessions were not spied on.
Team news alert! Rafael Benítez has a depleted Newcastle squad as his side prepare to face one of his former clubs. It’s all right Rafa, you’ll have loads of money to sp … oh!
Mauricio Pochettino has been speaking about the Leeds-Derby spy row. He said spying on opponents was common in Argentina when he was a young player there:
I played for [Bielsa]. I learned a lot from him. I learned the good and the not so good. There is nothing wrong with trying to find out a little more information. When I was 17 years old, all the managers in Argentina, like [Carlos] Bilardo and many others, used to send people to watch trainings sessions. Here, maybe it is a little bit weird. But in Argentina it happened … it is not a big issue, It is not a big deal.
More team news ahoy!
And if you haven’t read Paul Doyle’s defence of Wilfried Zaha over diving accusations, it has quite the intro.
Marco Silva is feeling the heat at Everton. Having been told by chairman Farhad Moshiri at the AGM that the club’s position in the league is “just not good enough”, he then had to listen to Everton’s CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale spell out that the ultimate ambition is to win the Premier League. So is he feeling the pressure then?
With our owner and chairman we are talking every week, we don’t need a General Meeting to contact each other. Every game is really tough. Even when you think it will be an easy game, it is really tough. We need to make sure we get a result [against Bournemouth]. Everyone is proud of us and our team and what we are doing. We want to win the next match. If you are achieving good results, we will have confidence to play good football. Things can change very quickly. One season is not just one month. We had a fantastic run before December.
They have a tough game at home against Bournemouth on Sunday. He also played down rumours that the club was considering a bid for Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayil, who has been underwhelming on loan at Valencia.
For us to do something in this moment it would mean another player would leave the club and it is not something in our mind. If you do something it because something has happened in our squad.”
Quiz time! Mo Salah was crowned African player of the year this week. Who else won the award while playing for Liverpool? If you know the answer to this, then you’ll get at least 1/10 in the sports quiz of the week.
Will Derby be checking the away dressing room at Leeds for bugs and cameras tonight? In December, Spanish second-tier club Granada were accused of spying on opponents after a number of cameras were found hidden in smoke detectors in their stadium. According to El Mundo, the club blamed their former director of operations for planting them. Like Leeds, Granada are top of the second division. Hmmm. Thanks to @maxbluer for pointing me in the direction of this.
The EFL have released a statement about spygate saying, well, not very much really.
We are aware of the reports in relation to an incident at the training ground of Derby County. It is, of course, up to Derby County as to how they progress this matter but as of yet we have received no complaint or contact from the club.
Confirmed transfer move alert! As David Hytner reported on Wednesday, Manolo Gabbiadini has joined Sampdoria for £10.8m after successfully coughing for the doctor.
Come and get your team news! Especially if you want an idea of how Liverpool will line up at the back against Brighton (spoiler alert: Sturridge probably isn’t going to play alongside Van Dijk unfortunately).
Back to the Leeds-Derby spy row. We know Marcelo Bielsa has a ridiculous level of attention to detail, but does he, or his team of coaches, have a history of spying? According to this piece in The National, as a young coach Bielsa had a teenager scramble up trees to gather information on opponents for him.
Thanks James. So Maurizio Sarri has had a lot to say this afternoon. Away from his beef with Bayern over Callum Hudson-Odoi, he has spoken about more possible transfer ins and outs at Chelsea. Sarri declined to comment on persistent links with his former Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is on loan at Milan from Juventus. He did say if Alvaro Morata leaves, with loan moves to Sevilla and Atletico Madrid mooted, Chelsea would need a replacement.
Of course, if Morata will go to another club we need a replacement. It’s normal. At the moment Morata is here, so I think he has to think only to play. Because in this moment in Europe there are 300 players involved in the market and they need to think only to the next match otherwise it’s impossible to play.”
And on Willian, who was on Thursday linked with Barcelona, he said:
Willian for us is really very important. I think it’s impossible to lose him in January.
Sarri added Cesc Fabregas was not in a psychological condition to play, with his move to Monaco yet to be completed. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) is out and Morata (hamstring) is doubtful for the match with Newcastle.
And with that largely unedifying slice of transfer non-news, I shall pass you back to Gregg Bakowski for your afternoon session. Cheers!
Not to underrate or undermine Ralph Hasenhüttl’s scouting but, given his limited time at Southampton, it’s fair to say any new signings arriving at St Mary’s this month are likely to be Bundesliga based.
One player Saints have been linked with his Borussia Monchengladbach winger Patrick Herrmann; exactly the sort of fast, dynamic footballer Hasenhüttl likes in a team with not much width and has only made three league starts this season. Anyway, the 27-year-old’s not for sale, according to ‘Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl.
Patrick stays. It’s too late for a transfer now, considering how early the second half of the season starts. Additionally, in Ibrahima Traoré and Fabian Johnson, we have two players on the wings who both have minor injuries.
More from Maurizio Sarri, who wants Chelsea to sign two players this month but hasn’t stated which positions. Think it’s fair to say at least one of them is a striker…
As you know very well I am not involved in the market. I spoke with the club and the club knows very well my opinion. In my opinion we need two players. Then it depends on the club decision. I don’t know anything about the market day by day or minute by minute.
Some further detail from the Press Association on the spying row which, while all very serious, makes for a brilliant tale…
Derbyshire Police attended County’s training ground on Thursday after a man was seen at the perimeter fence of the Moor Farm complex.
A Derby statement read: “Derby County Football Club can confirm that officers from the Derbyshire Constabulary were called to the Derby County training centre at around 11:20am on Thursday 10th January 2019 following reports of a man acting suspiciously outside the premises.
“It has since been confirmed to Derby County that the individual concerned is an employee of the footballing staff at Leeds United Football Club.
“The club is now in discussion with Leeds United club officials in relation to this incident. At this time no further comment will be made.”
Earlier a Derbyshire Police statement had confirmed a man was removed from a position near the club’s training ground.
It read: “A man was found at the perimeter fence of Moor Farm training ground and spoken to. Officers conducted routine checks which were all above board.
“Despite media reports, no damage to the fence was found, and the man was stopped outside the grounds. No arrests were made and the man was sent on his way.”
Maurizio Sarri doesn’t look an overtly happy man at the best of times but the Chelsea manager appears to been left truly cheesed off by Bayern Munich’s pursuit of Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Bayern’s offers for the teenager winger have extended to £35m with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic admitting on Wednesday that: “He has qualities that fit our game. He can dribble, he is fast, he moves well towards the goal. He is a young player who has great potential to evolve.”
In response today, here’s Sarri…
I think that it’s not professional, because they are talking about a player under contract with Chelsea. So they didn’t respect our club, I think.
Stephen Ganavas was our man at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai as Australia beat Palestine 3-0.
Returning to Spygate, it *seems* Leeds, or at least the city of, has previous with this sort of thing. Ian Fleming’s inspiration for James Bond was drawn from four real-life spooks, three of which had strong links with Yorkshire.
As this piece in the Yorkshire Evening Post details: “Geoffrey Appleyard and Graham Hayes came from Linton on Wharfe, near Wetherby, while Gus March-Phillipps was educated at Ampleforth College, near York.”
Burnley fans! Fulham fans! Fantasy Football fans looking for some team news! Any fans! Here is a match preview for you…
And the big ol’ lad that is Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard in conversation with David Hytner on the implications, beyond just being a bit rubbish, of Premier League relegation
Jürgen Klopp has also been discussing Liverpool’s FA Cup exit to Wolves
Afternoon all, and thanks Greg. Some housekeeping to kick off with as Australia have just beaten Palestine 3-0 in the Asian Cup having lost their first game of the tournament to Jordan. The Socceroos play Syria in their final group match on Tuesday.