Is Abramovich preparing to sack Mourinho? Dull football, no trophies and weekly outbursts behind Chelsea owner's absence: The Daily Mail runs a sensational story suggesting that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich could fire manager Jose Mourinho. The Russian oil tycoon has regularly missed matches at Stamford Bridge this season, and the Mail's reporter Matt Lawton has suggested that this will only lead in one direction: the sacking of the Portuguese boss: "His absence is being interpreted by some as yet another expression of his disapproval with what has been going on at Chelsea. When the relationship between the owner and Mourinho began to disintegrate during the self-anointed Special One’s first term in charge, Abramovich simply stopped going to matches. When he knew he wanted to sack Carlo Ancelotti, he stopped going again."
Paper Round says: This is a classic Sunday papers attempt to turn nothing into something: an inflammatory, unthinkable headline dressed up with half-truths, and illustrated with disappointed-looking Chelsea players and a bored-looking Abramovich glancing at his watch. Let's face it: Chelsea have only really been one deadly striker short of a title-winning team this season, and possibly even a Champions League final, and the black hole up front will certainly be rectified this summer. Plus Mourinho has the fans fully behind him - no mean feat for a Chelsea boss, eh Rafa? Jose will get another season at the very least, and the smart money says he'll make it count.
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Mourinho says Edin Dzeko should have won player of year award: The Observer's football coverage runs a story on Jose Mourinho's comments about Edin Dzeko, bizarrely claiming that the Manchester City striker has been the Premier League's true best player this season. "I would say a City player and I would choose Dzeko," said Mourinho. "He was the third striker at the beginning of the season and when the team needed him, in crucial moments, he made the difference. He has 16 goals. Sixteen for the third striker is something spectacular. He's not just a goalscorer. He assists, he plays."
Paper Round says: Everything Mourinho says, he says for a reason. And in this case it's not to genuinely praise Dzeko who, while good, is nobody's idea of a player of the season. First, Mourinho is having a dig at Luis Suarez - in his comments he also harked back to the bite on Branislav Ivanovic and Suarez's diving. Secondly, and more importantly, he is sending the clearest possible message to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich: 'Dzeko is Manchester City's third-choice striker and he's far better than any of my options - Torres, Eto'o and Ba. So give me some money to get someone decent this summer!'
This message, of course, ignores the fact that Mourinho could easily have had a brilliant striker in his squad had he not (a) refused to see sense over keeping Romelu Lukaku at Stamford Bridge; (b) spent £35m signing Willian purely to annoy Tottenham; and (c) spent a further £12m signing Mohamed 'Egyptian Messi' Salah purely to annoy Liverpool.
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Real Madrid to pay whatever it takes to land Suarez: The Spanish giants will write Liverpool a blank cheque to secure the services of Luis Suarez this summer, according to reports in the Mail on Sunday and Metro citing sources in Spain. Real president Florentino Perez sees Suarez as this summer's galactico signing - and while they'll open up with a £60 million bid to get the ball rolling, they're prepared "to go even higher to get their man," according to the Metro. Liverpool will resist any offer for their leading light, but Suarez is known to be keen on Madrid and would find resisting a switch difficult," the report adds. "Karim Benzema, who is about to enter the final year of his Madrid contract, could be used as a possible make-weight if a cash deal cannot be reached." The Mail's report adds that Barcelona are keen too - though surely they'd only move if rumours of Lionel Messi's desire to leave are true - and suggests that either of the Spanish giants could trigger a rumoured £82m release clause.
Paper Round's view: Quite simply, if Real will pay £83 million for Gareth Bale, they'll pay something similar for Suarez. Benzema is a fine striker - he has 72 goals in 158 league appearances for Real - who would probably thrive in the Premier League, so a cash plus player deal sounds good. But a genuinely great striker is almost always the difference between winning the league and being also-rans - as Chelsea have shown this season. The saga will boil down to two things: how hard Suarez pushes to leave, and whether Liverpool's owners have faith in the Rodgers system, or the Uruguayan who spearheads it.
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Hodgson to break bad news to less-than-magnificent seven: England manager Roy Hodgson will spend his Sunday night personally phoning the seven fringe players who will be left out of the national team squad for the World Cup in Brazil, according to The Sun. The squad is to be named at 2pm on Monday, but Hodgson will call the unlucky ones the night before to break the bad news - though all will be on standby in case of injuries. The choices, according to the paper, will come down to Ashley Cole v Luke Shaw at left-back; Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley in midfield; Fraser Forster v John Ruddy for the third goalkeeper slot; while Jermain Defoe is also expected to get a call.
Paper Round's view: Hodgson's tenure has England boss has been a PR nightmare. After the farcical situations with Rio Ferdinand (cold-shouldered) and Micah Richards (refused to be on standby) at Euro 2012, there was the incredibly ill-judged monkey reference to Andros Townsend that caused a tabloid stir after the final two qualifying matches. At last, though, it seems as if Hodgson is trying to get ahead of the news and deal with the media circus that is an intrinsic part of his job.
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Shaw to choose Manchester United over Chelsea : The Daily Star Sunday and Sunday Telegraph report that Chelsea target Luke Shaw will move to Old Trafford instead of Stamford Bridge. The Southampton player - tipped for an England World Cup spot - has already been the subject of a £27m bid from United, according to the Telegraph, thanks to interest from Real Madrid and Liverpool pushing up his price.
Paper Round says: Choosing United over Chelsea seems like a madcap decision on the face of it, given United's awful season and the relative uncertainty over who will be in charge. But Shaw is actually acting smart: Mourinho's preference for Cesar Azpilicueta over Ashley Cole, and his treatment of striker Romelu Lukaku, are pretty solid proof that a move to the Blues would be a guarantee of either a spot warming the bench or an enforced stint out on loan for one of England's brightest young talents. A chance to play a starring role in making United good again is probably a much better bet.
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Van Gaal to bring back Fergie's number two: The Sunday Times reports that one of Louis van Gaal's first acts as Manchester United boss, assuming he is confirmed in the job, will be to reinstate Rene Meulensteen on the club's coaching staff. "Van Gaal was initially expected to try to appoint as his Old Trafford number two Patrick Kluivert, his assistant with the Dutch national side, but Kluivert has been told he won’t be offered a job at United… there are signals that Van Gaal is still poised to bring with him an important Dutch coach - and it is believed Meulensteen is who he wants," the paper reports.
Paper Round says: David Moyes made the mistake of throwing the babies out with the bathwater when he took over at Old Trafford as he axed all of Alex Ferguson's staff; it makes perfect sense to scoop some of those babies back in, and despite Meulensteen's flop as Fulham boss there is no doubting his core coaching skills.
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