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Essien ready to play for “daddy”

Michael Essien’s shock deadline-day move to Real Madrid came as a surprise to many, including the man himself. The Ghanaian midfielder however, admits that it was a welcome surprise as the move sees him re-united with the man he refers to as “daddy”— Jose Mourinho.

Essien who is fondly nicknamed ‘The Bison’ because of his powerful physical presence was originally signed by Jose Mourinho for Chelsea in 2005.

Essien describes Mourinho as being “like a father to him” and he proved he meant it by repeatedly calling his manager “daddy” during his press conference.

Reuters reports:

“Daddy (Mourinho) knows me very well, he brought me to Chelsea, and he knows I can play in any position he wants – except goalkeeper.”

Everything went very fast and I was in my hotel room and I had a call from my daddy and he said he would be very happy to have me at the club,” he said.

“I never thought I would end up here. I was focused on Chelsea and I didn’t know that Real Madrid would make a bid for me.

“When Mourinho calls it’s more than enough. All I want to do is play football and when he rang me I said yes immediately.

“When I arrived he was at the airport. We were really happy to see each other and I am really looking forward to starting playing and enjoying the football.”

Essien called Mourinho “daddy” not less than 10 times during the press conference. The twittersphere has been abuzz since with views fluctuating between the endearment being “awesome” to it being “the creepiest thing ever”.

Whatever the view, Essien’s press conference does shed light on perhaps why so many managers have tried but failed at Chelsea since Mourinho.

The Special One with his strange ways, from making the players believe he is their father to praising them in the shower, really had worked a magical spell on the Chelsea players.

Essien believes that he has put a series of serious injuries behind him and is ready to fight for a place in the La Liga side.

“If I wasn’t ready Real Madrid would not have brought me here,” he says.

Real Madrid’s start to the season hasn’t been spectacular. They have taken only one point from their opening two matches and they know that they are going to have to do a lot better if they are to win a second consecutive La Liga tile.

I guess we’ll find out if  “daddy” knows best.

Happy Father’s Day everyone.

If you fancy some mathematical stimulation, here’s the video.


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UEFA Champions League Final: Chelsea’s road to Munich

In less than 5 hours, Chelsea will take on Bayern Munich in one of the most awaited Champions League finals. Both teams are trying to make up for finals past. Bayern Munich lost the 2010 final to Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan and will want to avoid the heartbreak of losing the final on their home ground. Chelsea, on the other hand,  lost the 2008 Final to English rivals Manchester United after their captain John Terry slipped and missed a penalty. It is the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich’s dream to win the Champions League – a competition Chelsea have never won.

The Blues are finishing sixth in the English Premier League and the only way they can qualify to play in the  Champions League year is by winning the Final today. Their road to Munich has been anything but smooth. Here is a look at their remarkable Champions League campaign.

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Bayern Munich would want to avoid the embarrassment of losing a final they are hosting

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Champions League Final: Funny money

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar likes it.

The teams are preparing, the clock is ticking and on the 19th of May, all eyes will be on Bayern Munich as they take on Chelsea in the Champions League final.

The Bavarians with the in form Manuel Neuer face a relatively weakened Chelsea side at their home ground. The chances of them beating Chelsea are huge. However, the chances of them pocketing any of the €9 million prize are nil. The prize money will go into the coffers of their Bundesliga rivals Schalke and Hoffenheim.

UEFA will pay Bayern Munich a €9 million prize if they win the title. Unfortunately for the German club, this is exactly the amount they will owe to Schalke and Hoffenheim as a part of  “success” clauses in the deals to bring Luiz Gustavoto and star goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to the club.

According to Eurosport:

Schalke are already due €2 million for Bayern having reached the semi-finals, but they will be due a further €4 million from the Bavarian giants if they lift the trophy in two weeks’ time.

And it doesn’t stop there. Hoffenheim struck a smaller but otherwise almost identical deal with Bayern after they sold Luiz Gustavo for €17 million in January 2011.

Hoffenheim have already picked up a €1 million bonus for the Munich side making the semi-finals, and they’ll be due another €2 million if their rivals win the trophy.

That means that Bayern’s entire €9 million prize money would be wiped out at a stroke – and also means that, financially speaking, they’d be better off pocketing the €5.6 million offered to the runner-up.

But fear not Bayern fans, €9 million is only the prize money for winning the final. Last year’s finalists, Barcelona and Manchester United, got a significant boost from being in the Champions League. They earned about €50 million each from performance payments and TV revenue. And there is also the money made from merchandising and other indirect revenue streams. Phew! Not all is lost financially if they win.

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Tables turned: Skysports apologises to John Terry

Photo by: Александр Мысякин.

‘I am too lazy for revenge, I just wait for karma to kick in’ could have been John Terry’s facebook status today.

Karma really is shinning down on JT who has often been the victim of unfair media coverage. In February last year, media organisations the world over scrambled to publish details about John Terry’s alleged affair with ex-teammate John Bridge’s former wife.

These alleged revelations splashed on front pages of publications all over the world lead to the footballer losing the England captaincy and almost/ nearly ended his marriage.

Leading the brigade was New of the World. The 168-year old tabloid was forced to shut-down after a Guardian investigation revealed a shocking, soul-less culture and turned the tables on the dirt-digging publication.

Today, Sky Sports apologised for misquoting John Terry in an interview about Tottenham midfielder Luca Modric. I suspect, John Terry and most celebs can look forward to deluge of apologies coming their way in the following weeks as media organisations go into a NOTW spurred extra-cautious mode.

Photo by: Gene Hunt.

Although, the NOTW revelations make it impossible to argue in the tabloid’s favour. Romantics among us might have felt some remorse for a 168-year old establishment to have come to such a terrible and bitter end. Others who remember times when tabloids were publications that got some of the best scoops and set the tone for political debate and weren’t synonymous with dirty, sensationalist, (and now criminal) news reporting might go further and blame Rupert Murdoch for ruining a British tabloid.

But, there is no denying that the tabloid culture and the news culture as a whole needs to change. If a sesquicentennial publication has to die to set this change in motion, so be it.

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Avram Grant Named New West Ham Manager

West Ham United have appointed Avram Grant as the club’s new manager. The Israeli signed a four-year deal which is subject to him being granted a work-permit. The former Portsmouth manager succeeds Gianfranco Zola who was sacked after the Hammers finished 17th in last season’s league.

Avram Grant who is a personal friend of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, shot into the limelight when he was appointed the  manager of Chelsea FC following the abrupt departure of the then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. Chelsea fans were shocked by Jose Mourinho’s sacking and livid at the owner’s choice of ‘The Special One’s’ successor sparking a series of protests, some of racial and anti semantic nature. They felt he lacked the expertise to manage at the highest level. UEFA didn’t make things easier for Avram Grant either, with the governing body threatening to put an end to his long-term future at Chelsea FC since he did not possess the UEFA Pro License required under the Premier League rules by anyone wishing to manage a top-flight club on a permanent basis i.e. longer than 12 weeks.Despite all the chaos surrounding his appointment, Avram Grant kept his head and led Chelsea FC to a second place finish in the Premier League, to the Champions League Final, the League Cup Final and the FA Cup final.

Avram Grant’s contract was terminated by Chelsea FC at the end of the season and he moved to Portsmouth FC.

During his tenure at Portsmouth, they suffered a 9-point deduction owing to their financial meltdown and became the first top-flight club to go into administration. Avram Grant however, motivated his players who had not been paid on several occasions to give it their best every time they went on to the pitch. He galvanized the team and Portsmouth fought till the very end. Grant quite brilliantly, through sheer grit, determination and belief managed to take the most-obvious relegation candidates to England’s most coveted Cup Final, the FA Cup Final. Even though Portsmouth lost to Chelsea in the final, their fans continued to sing past the final whistle, still believing in their club. Last season truly was one of Avram Grant’s best, silencing critics once and for all.

Avram Grant’s time in England with Chelsea and Portsmouth leaves no doubt about his managerial abilities. No one would argue with West Ham’s co-owner David Gold who felt Avram Grant’s appointment as West Ham manager brings “stability and experience” to the club. Avram Grant who will be officially unveiled this month said, “I am proud and honoured to be the manager of West Ham”.

It seems only fair that a club supported by an impressive fanbase including the likes of Elton John, Rod Stewart, Russell Brand, Alfred Hitchcock, Sebastian Faulks, Nicolas Cage and the President of the United States, Barack Obama is managed by the very impressive Avram Grant.

Article first published as Avram Grant Named New West Ham Manager on Technorati.

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Germany Fears Realised: Ballack Out of the World Cup

Germany’s worst  fears were realised when it was announced that their captain Michael Ballack will miss this summer’s World Cup in South Africa. He was hurt in the FA cup final between Premier League Champions Chelsea, the club he plays for and Portsmouth when a late tackle by Kevin-Prince Boateng caught his ankle. A scan in Munich on Monday revealed torn  ligaments in Ballack’s right ankle  putting him out of action for at least eight weeks. Michael Ballack has already won 98 caps and scored 42 goals for Germany.  This year would have been his fourth and probably the last appearance in a World Cup.

Michael Ballack feels that Kevin-Prince Boateng tried to hurt him intentionally and that the referee, Chris Foy should have shown him a red card instead of a yellow.  Ballack who was very worried about his injury said, “I have seen [the tackle] on TV and to say it was not on purpose means you have to be a friend of Boateng.”

Kevin-Prince Boateng recently snubbed Germany to play for Ghana and with the two teams meeting in the group stages, Boateng had been dubbed by the German Media as ‘ Public Enemy No. 1″.  The new Ghanaian player has been accused of tackling Ballack to prevent him from meeting the Black Stars at the World Cup. The Portsmouth player however has vehemently denied the allegation and apologized for the reckless tackle.

Boateng’s tackle on Ballack did not look premeditated but it has emerged that the two have a history of not getting along and Boateng could have been holding a grudge against Ballack for a remark  the German captain allegedly made four years ago during a game when both  played in the German Bundesliga.

The story goes, Boateng  had just scored his first goal for Hertha [Berlin]. Hertha Berlin’s next match was against Bayern Munich and Boateng got into an argument with Michael Ballack. Ballack it is alleged said to him, ‘You’ve scored one goal, and you think you are the best’.

Boateng’s defenders however, argue that his decision to play for Ghana instead of  Germany is the reason that the German press is so critical of him.

While German Coach Joachim Loew was shocked and feels Ballack’s absence was a ‘severe blow’ for the team’s prospects. Ballack’s agent threatened to to sue Boateng for setting out to intentionally injure the German captain; Michael Ballack , who has won the English Premier League title and the FA Cup playing for Chelsea this year was ‘angry’ but was also philosophical.  “It’s football and you have to live with it,” he said.

Article first published as Germany’s Fears Realised: Ballack out of the Soccer World Cup on Technorati.

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Come On Chelsea: Blue is the Colour!

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It’s the final day of the Premier League season and our destiny is still in our own hands. All we need to do is win against Wigan today and bring the premier league trophy back where it belongs in Stamford Bridge. A lot of people seem to think that Chelsea have already won the title (some of my non-football crazy but very adorable  friends have already congratulated me!)  and that the Wigan game is a mere formality but I shudder at the memory of that terrible day earlier in the season when Wigan made beating us look so simple.  I know, that back then we lost only because we were foolishly complacent and that this game has too much riding on it for our players to be silly and that they will be a 100%  motivated to win. The flip side of a game being so important to one side is, that usually it isn’t very important to the other side. Wigan have absolutely nothing riding on this game so they will just want to come out there and play and will enjoy the fact that they have the opportunity to change the complexion of the entire season.

Chelsea stayed top of the table for most weeks and Carlo Ancelotti believes that Chelsea deserve the title saying it would be ” a tragedy, a disaster” if Chelsea fail to win. He did warn the players against complacency saying, “I don’t want to say the title is our destiny. It’s our aim to win. We’ve done a fantastic job, but we’ve still got one game to go. We have to do our best and play at the same level as in the last game. Until now, we’ve deserved to stay at the top of the list. It would be a tragedy if we lost the last game after nine months of such a good, fantastic job. Every day. It would be a tragedy, a disaster.”

Florent Malouda who was named ‘Player’s Player Of the Season’ said it would be the worst blow of his career if Chelsea were to lose today. He added, “We know Wigan will not give up against us, but our chance of winning the title should be big enough to overcome any obstacle placed in front of us.”

Wigan have beaten Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool for the first time this season but lets not forget that we are playing at home and that Wigan haven’t won in their last 5 away games. Chelsea on the other hand have won 16 of our 18 home games and scored 60 goals. If we score another 3 goals , we will break the record for the most home goals in a season!

It has been a very crazy season for us, with the off-field allegations about John Terry and Ashley Cole, but the brilliant Blues really seem to have come out of it stronger. Didier Drogba feels that the scandals actually helped the team to come together and really make a push for the double. Lets pray that we won’t need a similar scandal to unite the team next season but hopefully we’ll continue in this season’s tradition of  scoring 7 goals against 3 different teams.

Chelsea midfielder extraordinaire, ‘Super’ Frank Lampard  described the season perfectly as a ‘mad‘ one, and ranks it as his best campaign ever especially is Chelsea do the double. No one does it better than Lamps, even when it comes to summing up Chelsea’s season finale, “I guess it might be a bit like having a winning lottery ticket and waiting for someone to tell you you’ve won to make it real.”

Well, guess what my wonderful True Blues…. we are gonna win this thing….and then we going to go and do what only 6 teams have manged to do in premier league history … we are going to win the FA Cup and do the double!  Lets paint this town BLUE!  ktbffh

PS: I just hope Chelsea don’t get too nervous.  I am sure they won’t, besides I think I am nervous enough for everyone!

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