B/R Gossip Roundup: Moreno Fits Liverpool Bill, Cech Is Chelsea Odd Man out

BR UK NewsFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2014

B/R Gossip Roundup: Moreno Fits Liverpool Bill, Cech Is Chelsea Odd Man out

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    The transfer window is heading to its closure, but managerial movements have also been high on the agenda in the gossip columns this week.

    Tony Pulis and Crystal Palace parted company two days before the Premier League season began, while Antonio Conte was named as new Italy head coach.

    Liverpool have signed the perfect solution to their left-back conundrum in Alberto Moreno, but Petr Cech could be on his way out at Chelsea.

    Here's our look at some of the biggest stories of the week.

Left-Back Alberto Moreno Is Ideal Signing for Liverpool

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Ask any Liverpool supporter where their main weakness was last season, and many will point you in the direction of the left-back position.

    The long-term injury to Jose Enrique proved to be problematic for Brendan Rodgers last season, and he has since sought a solution to the conundrum on the left side of his back line.

    Jon Flanagan impressed in his early appearances in the role, but it is not his strongest position on the pitch.

    Rodgers subsequently recognised a need to close over the hole at left-back, and Sevilla's Alberto Moreno was seen as the answer.

    The Daily Mirror reported that the Liverpool manager's interest in the Spain international was about to come to fruition at the start of the week, and Moreno completed his move on Saturday, as the club's official website recorded.

    Before the deal was completed, Moreno bade an emotional farewell to Sevilla fans after the UEFA Super Cup loss to Real Madrid at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday.

    As far as Liverpool fans were concerned, a move for the 22-year-old could not come quickly enough.

    Moreno narrowly missed out on selection for the Spain World Cup squad, though that disappointment ultimately offered the silver lining of not being tainted by the abysmal showing of the national team in Brazil.

    Instead, the Seville-born defender is viewed as a future star of the Spanish side as they attempt to rebuild for the future.

    But Moreno's absence from the 2014 World Cup will also see the player come into the new season fresher than those who did participate, which will add to the optimism of Reds fans.

    Moreno, of course, is no stranger to success on the European club stage after playing a lead role in Sevilla's Europa League triumph last season.

    That experience will stand him in good stead for Liverpool's forthcoming Champions League campaign.

    And Jack Watson of Squawka.com notes that Moreno will also represent an upgrade on Enrique.

    At 22 years old, Moreno represents a sound move by Rodgers as he prepares for the new Premier League season and beyond.

    Believability Meter: High

    Liverpool and Moreno have been mentioned in the same breath for months now, and it is understandable why.

    The Sevilla defender was looking for a step up in his career, while the Reds had a desperate need for a left-back. It's the perfect solution for both.

Glenn Hoddle on Right Course for Management Return

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    The celebrity golf circuit is about to lose one of its recruits as a former England manager follows the path back to managerial redemption.

    The appointment of Glenn Hoddle as first-team coach at Queens Park Rangers, as The Guardian reported, comes not long after Steve McClaren used the same route back to being the top man in the dugout.

    McClaren had suffered the ignominy of being sacked as the Three Lions boss after his failure to qualify for Euro 2008 but re-established his credentials as a manager at FC Twente in the Netherlands.

    However, he failed to find the same success elsewhere and appeared to be on the scrapheap when QPR manager Harry Redknapp recruited him to the first-team coach role at Loftus Road in July 2013.

    McClaren found his feet with the west London club and was soon in the managerial hot seat at Derby County.

    Hoddle has not managed a team since July 2006 when he resigned from his role at Wolves. His time as England head coach came to an end in 1999 after he made controversial comments about disabled people, as BBC News reported.

    It comes as a surprise that the former Tottenham player and manager should have been out of the game for so long, but the call from Redknapp has placed the 56-year-old firmly back on the path to management.

    Redknapp, 67, has already stated that he would have retired if QPR had not beaten McClaren's Derby in the Championship play-off final at Wembley in May, as Dean Jones of the Sunday People reported.

    How long the former West Ham United and Tottenham boss will remain in the game remains to be seen, but the arrival of Hoddle offers serious experience for QPR to draw on when Redknapp decides to call it a day.

    Hoddle was renowned as one of the most forward-thinking coaches in the English game during his time as a manager with Swindon, Chelsea, Southampton, Tottenham and Wolves.

    Under his tutelage, Michael Owen came of age in an England shirt—Hoddle gave the teenager the platform to shine at the 1998 World Cup in France.

    Hoddle took Swindon from the foot of the second tier to the Premier League before building the platform for Chelsea's recent successes during his time at Stamford Bridge.

    Recently, Hoddle has proved to be a successful television analyst, working for ITV Sport at the 2014 World Cup.

    However, with his path to management now reopened by Redknapp, his presence in the studio might not be required.

    Believability Meter: High

    It is somewhat baffling that Hoddle has remained out of the game for so long, but this is an opportunity both he and QPR are set to benefit from.

    By working under Redknapp, the former England manager has the chance to re-establish his credentials in the dugout.

Crystal Palace Risking Premier League Status with Tony Pulis Departure

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    The news of Tony Pulis' departure from Crystal Palace on Thursday night—less than 48 hours before the new Premier League season—will have left a number of jaws on the floor.

    David Ornstein of BBC Sport reported the relationship between the Eagles manager and chairman Steve Parish had broken down to such an extent that the pair parted by mutual consent.

    There had previously been rumours of issues between the two men over the transfer policy at Selhurst Park, as Dave Kidd of the Daily Mirror claimed in January.

    Pulis went on to secure a place in Palace folklore by taking the team from the depths of the relegation zone to an 11th-place finish in the Premier League last season—their highest placing in over 20 years.

    Pulis succeeded Ian Holloway at Palace in November 2013 with the Eagles three points from safety. They also possessed the unenviable statistic of never having survived beyond one season in the Premier League.

    The former Stoke City boss also had a record of never having been relegated to protect, and, sure enough, he maintained it on the back of a run of five successive wins from March 29 and the incredible comeback 3-3 draw with title-chasing Liverpool in May.

    As a result of those heroics, Pulis was named Premier League LMA Manager of the Year, as David Kent of the Daily Mail reported.

    Summer signings Brede Hangeland, Fraizer Campbell and Martin Kelly, who joined from Liverpool just hours before Pulis left, must be wondering what is happening.

    Couple that with the bemusement of the rest of the Palace playing staff and question marks must be raised as to where Palace go now.

    Bar the opening game against Arsenal, the fixture list had given the Eagles a promising start to the season, where early points could have prevented a similar situation to the one Pulis entered nine months ago.

    Under Pulis, the south London club had a chance of capitalising, but they must now face a period of uncertainty instead.

    Believability Meter: High

    Palace and Parish have every right to be cautious about their financial situation, especially after the experience of administration in 2010 (BBC Sport).

    But it is the players and manager who are most vital to ensuring the riches of the top flight are not surrendered without a fight.

    Losing the man who did so much to guarantee Premier League football for a successive season at Selhurst Park on the eve of the new campaign puts their top-flight future at serious risk.

Aguero, Kompany, Silva Deals Underline Belief in Pellegrini at Manchester City

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    The disappointing performance in the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal was followed by a week of solid silver linings for Manchester City supporters.

    The Etihad Stadium team were lacklustre in their 3-0 loss to the Gunners at Wembley, but things soon picked up with the confirmation of the arrival of defender Eliaquim Mangala from FC Porto on Monday, as the club's official website reported.

    The France international became the club's sixth signing of the summer, following the arrivals of Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero, Frank Lampard, Fernando and Bruno Zuculini.

    However, the real joy for City fans came in the form of the new contracts signed by David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero later in the week, as the Daily Telegraph reported.

    Just over one year ago, some City supporters were unhappy at the sacking of Roberto Mancini and less than impressed with the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini in his place, as David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror noted.

    Fast forward beyond the Capital One Cup win and the Premier League title, and the situation is remarkably different, with the supporters now seemingly fully behind the Chilean.

    The new arrivals this summer have given City further depth to their squad ahead of the defence of their title, but the new deals for Aguero, Kompany and Silva are something beyond the hopes of the fans.

    Aguero had been linked with a move to Barcelona to link up with close friend, Lionel Messi, earlier this summer, as Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star reported.

    City captain Kompany was also rumoured to be interesting Camp Nou officials, according to Mundo Deportivo, via ITV Sport.

    Both players have now committed themselves to City on five-year deals.

    However, the new contract for Silva is, arguably, the best piece of business Pellegrini and City could have done this summer.

    The Spain international represents the major attacking threat of the team, and his form in the Premier League was a significant factor in City reclaiming the title last season.

    But no footballer signs an extended deal at a club where he is disgruntled with the manager. Obviously, Aguero, Kompany and Silva will rarely struggle for a starting place for Pellegrini, but committing their long-term futures to City serves to underline their belief in the Chilean.

    Believability Meter: High

    Few City supporters will remember such an auspicious week. Indeed, only the arrival of Sheikh Mansour and his billions could match the delirium of the past seven days.

    The extended deals for City's star men are a massive boost ahead of the new campaign, but those signings can be attributed to Pellegrini and the belief his players have in him.

Cech the Odd Man out at Chelsea

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    Monday could well be D-day for Petr Cech. The Czech has been the undisputed No. 1 at Stamford Bridge—rightly so—for over a decade.

    His position is now under threat, with Chelsea finally electing recall Thibaut Courtois following three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid.

    Blues boss Jose Mourinho knows in his own mind who his No. 1 is, though he is keeping his cards close to his chest.

    The Blues open their Premier League campaign against Burnley on Monday. Whoever trots out to keep goal will have won the battle.

    The smart money is on Courtois. That appears to be the view of the Mail’s Matt Barlow, who wrote on Thursday that Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco and Real Madrid are ready to make offers for Cech if he is forced to play understudy to Courtois.

    In his piece, Barlow wrote:

    Chelsea are preparing for a sudden flurry of offers for Petr Cech amid fears he is losing his duel with Thibaut Courtois to be first-choice goalkeeper.

    Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco are keen to lure Cech back to France. Real Madrid are also interested and all three are ready to step up their pursuit.

    Cech is still a top-class keeper, reported interest from three of Europe’s powerhouses is an indicator of this, and Mourinho would, all things being equal, not want to lose a player who has served him so well.

    But as Mourinho acknowledged during a press conference following his side’s friendly clash with Real Sociedad on Tuesday, he has too many foreign players on his books.

    We have one problem to resolve, which is one extra foreign player at this moment.

    Victor [Moses] is not a foreign player. I know Victor is from a position where we have many solutions: [Eden] Hazard, Willian, [Mohamed] Salah and [Andre] Schurrle. But he is English and in this moment we have one foreign player who has to leave. Until the end of the month we have to make that decision. Victor is in the process.

    Whether he stays, or leaves, we will see.

    The question at the press conference was about Victor Moses; Cech’s name did not crop up. But moving Cech on would solve Mourinho’s quota problem at a stroke.

    Goalkeepers are unique in that rotation is extremely difficult. If, as expected, Courtois is handed the starting role, Cech may well elect to move on. He is 32 and will want to be playing regularly.

    Believability Meter: Medium to High

    In an ideal world, Chelsea would keep hold of Cech—but you cannot keep two top-class 'keepers happy. If Courtois is handed the No. 1 role, expect Cech to have his pick from a number of options.

Antonio Conte Was Sole Choice for Italy, Just as He Was for Juventus

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    Sometimes a job vacancy simply comes at the right time.

    Juventus supporters were taken by surprise on July 15 when their successful head coach Antonio Conte quit his position just one day after the squad reconvened after the summer break.

    As Luke Augustus of the Daily Mail reported at the time, the 45-year-old felt—after winning three successive Serie A titles with the Old Lady—that he could do no more with the team.

    Conte was quoted as saying:

    I have matured with time and my feelings led me to make this choice. It may be more difficult to keep winning with Juventus.

    An enormous thank you for what you have given to me as a player and as a coach. I have always been close to you. I want to say that the journey taken in recent years has been historic.

    Winning is difficult. It comes with a lot of effort, especially in a club like Juventus where there is the obligation of victory, but I showed I'm a winner.

    There can be little doubt that Conte was a winning appointment for Juventus, and the former midfielder was an obvious choice to replace Luigi Delneri.

    Conte bled black-and-white blood as a player, guiding Juventus to five Serie A titles and the 1996 Champions League.

    He was pretty much the only name in the frame for Juventus. The club's hierarchy were rewarded with regular domestic success for their decision.

    Now, though, Juventus are on the wrong end of a similar situation, with Cesare Prandelli's resignation in the wake of Italy's World Cup exit opening a door to the national team for Conte.

    Conte is renowned for being swift with his decision-making and has not been slow to make an immediate impact on team selection.

    His appointment to succeed Cesare Prandelli as Italy head coach will see him needing the same qualities with the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign on the horizon.

    But his man-management style, where trust in his players is uppermost in his thinking, can only benefit the national team in their chase for a place in France in two years' time.

    Juventus supporters might have some right to feel aggrieved at the sudden departure of their manager, particularly with Conte still to make a significant mark in Europe.

    Juve failed to qualify from the group stages of the Champions League last season and missed out on a Europa League final appearance at their home stadium.

    It could be argued that Conte owed Juventus a further shot at the Champions League this season, but when the right job turns up, there is no stopping an ambitious man.

    Believability Meter: Medium

    Conte was the sole choice for the Italy job once Prandelli announced his decision to step down.

    But the Azzurri's gain is to the detriment of Juventus, who have celebrated being the dominant force in Italian football under Conte.

    However, the Bianconeri will have to accept that their manager is the right man at the right time for Italy—just as he was for Juventus in 2011.